The Witness Blanket installation is now at the University of Regina campus (January and February). Instructors are invited to include topics of residential schooling in this winter’s courses. Please bring your students to view the display on the main floor of the RIC Atrium (between College West and the Laboratory Building).
The Witness Blanket is recognized as a national monument that highlights the atrocities of the Indian residential school era. The installation honours the children’s’ lives and their legacies that were lost and untold within history. This profound installation has 887 pieces of artifacts that have been reclaimed from various abandoned residential schools, government buildings, churches, band offices, treatment centres, universities and ceremonial objects from across Canada. The artist, Carey Newman, states, “To bear witness is to show by your existence that something is true”. As a witness, you have the opportunity to become a part of the untold stories and to take part in reshaping the history of the Residential School Era.
The installation is unsupervised and stands alone on the first floor of the Research and Innovation Centre (RIC). For further information about the project and artist, please see the following links below:
- Witness Blanket website: https:// www.witnessblanket.ca
- Witness Blanket video: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-witness-blanket
- Artist Carey Newman interview: https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2014/10/06/witness-blanket-recalls-tragic-chapter-of-canadian-indigenous-history/
To create a foundation of knowledge for the residential school era, a suggested resource is the movie “We Were Children,” which gives first-hand account of personal experiences survivors endured while attending residential schools. Another resource is an episode of 8Th Fire called “Sacred Heart Residential School,” depicting the personal impacts of the disconnection children experienced from their communities and the hardships faced while in residential school. To view these videos and for further information, please see the following websites:
- We Were Children: https://www.nfb.ca/film/we_were_children
- 8Th Fire- Sacred Heart Residential School: https://www.cbc.ca/8thfire/2011/12/painful-legacy.html
To further the opportunity for learning and discussion about the experiences of the residential school era, I invite you to have an open discussion about student perceptions and reactions to the installation. Here are some questions for debriefing:
- What knowledge did you have prior to viewing the Witness Blanket?
- What did you learn from the installation?
- What resonated with you the most?
- How do you plan on facilitating the conversation about residential schools and the experiences of the children that attended?
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