Witness Blanket

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

“Did your school have a graveyard?”

This question is asked in the short video found at The Witness Blanket, a website dedicated to the “large scale art installation, made out of hundreds of items reclaimed from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities, from across Canada.”

The Witness Blanket

The large work is the creation of Carey Newman (Ha-yalth-kingeme), a First Nations artist from B.C. whose father was a residential school survivor.

Its sole purpose is, to again quote the website, to stand “in eternal witness to the effects of the Indian Residential School era – the system created and run by churches and the Canadian government to “take the Indian out of the child”. Left alone, these pieces may be forgotten, lost, buried, or worse – be uncomfortable reminders that leave painful impressions on the minds and hearts of those who recognize what they represent. Individually, they are paragraphs of a disappearing narrative. Together they are strong and formidable, collectively able to recount for future generations the true story of loss, strength, reconciliation and pride.”

If you’re in Hamilton, Ontario, the Witness Blanket is on display at the Hamilton Public Library from July 13 to August 29, 2015.  I intend to see it at the New Westminster Museum and Archives, in New Westminster, BC, (my birthplace) when it is on display from December 2016 to April 2017.  The full tour listing can be found at the site’s touring section.

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