Cultural Background: Dene Suline and Saulteaux
Born in 1935, Alex Janvier was raised in the nurturing care of his family until the age of eight.
At this age, the young Janvier was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian
Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct
from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools
to create his first paintings. Unlike many aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal
art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960.
In 1993, Morning Star, was installed at the river end of the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum
of History. Janvier titled the work Morning Star in reference to the star's use as a direction-
finder. He planned the four areas of colour in the outside ring to represent periods in Native
history: yellow, for early history in harmony with nature; blue, for the changes brought about by
contact with European civilization; red, for revival and optimism; and white for reconciliation
and a return to harmony.
As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven”, Janvier is one of the
significant pioneering aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations
of aboriginal artists.