b. 1975, Richmond, BC
The impetus behind my work is to bring to light the dark, hidden history of Canada’s actions/inactions against the Indigenous people. I often infuse my work with wry humour in an attempt to foster a dialogue; to speak to the realities of being an Indigenous person in the colonial state of Canada. Within this, my work deals with the loss of language, loss of cultural resources and the effects of colonization upon the Indigenous people of North America.
Sonny Assu was raised in North Delta, BC, over 250 km away from his home ancestral home on Vancouver Island. Having been raised as you “everyday average suburban white-kid” it wasn’t until he was eight years old that he discovered his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. Later in life, this discovery would be the conceptual focal point of his contemporary art practice. Having cut his teeth in Vancouver’s art scene, Assu packed up and moved to Montreal to be with the love of his life. Five years later, along with his wife and beautiful daughter, Sonny moved back to BC, settling in Surrey’s Crescent Park. Having grown tired of the isolation of the area and the ridiculousness of the over-inflated housing market, Assu and his family moved “home” to unceded Liǥwildaʼx̱w territory (Campbell River, BC.).
Assu graduated from Emily Carr University (2002) and was the recipient of their distinguished alumni award in 2006. He received the BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations art in 2011 and was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2012, 2013 and 2015. His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada, Seattle Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Hydro Quebec, Lotto Quebec and in various other public and private collections across Canada, the United States and the UK.