Historic Residential School Monument, The Witness Blanket, to be Unveiled at Cape Breton University
The CBU Art Gallery in partnership with Unama’ki College is hosting an opening reception to showcase First Nations artist Carey Newman’s historic monument honouring residential school survivors, The Witness Blanket, on Friday, September 18 from 2-4pm. The exhibit runs from September 18 – October 16.
“It is an honour for the Art Gallery to be able to bring this national touring exhibition to Cape Breton Island. Working with our partner Unama’ki College, and with the funding support of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, we hope our First Nations students, residential school survivors, descendants and the public take this opportunity to visit the Gallery and engage with this significant work and the themes it represents.” – Catherine Arseneau, Director Cultural Resource, CBU.
The large-scale installation is the creation of Newman, a First Nations artist from B.C whose father was a residential school survivor. In 2013 and 2014, Newman and team members travelled across Canada collecting stories and artifacts from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities. The completed art installation known as the Witness Blanket is over eight feet tall and 40 feet long. The cedar frames hold over 800 collected objects and a multi-media presentation woven together to create a historical blanket of shared memories. The Witness Blanket is currently touring across Canada. This is its first stop in Nova Scotia.
“I created this piece with the vision that it would reflect the strength of my people and it is my hope that everyone who stands witness of this piece will be affected in some way. This blanket is meant to bear eternal witness to this important part of Canadian history. It is also meant to create awareness and encourage open conversation. In this blanket, we honour the survivors and the children who were lost and move forward with hope for true reconciliation and a better future.” – Carey Newman, First Nations Master Carver.
“The residential school era was a dark chapter in Canada’s history. The artist Carey Newman in producing this work based it on the hope that by first bearing witness, acknowledging and understanding the past, we can move forward toward reconciliation and healing. This is an exhibit everyone needs to see!” – Stephen Augustine, Dean Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning
Facilitated tours for schools and other groups will be available between September 21 and October 15. Programming will address legacies of residential schooling in Canada and ongoing reconciliation.
For more information or to book your group tour contact The CBU Art Gallery at (902)563-1342.