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Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
May 14, 2014
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
B.C. remembers residential school legacy

VICTORIA – The provincial government honoured the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools with its contribution to a large-scale art installation that will be unveiled next week at the University of Victoria.

B.C. donated a brass door knob from the Speaker’s Office in the B.C. legislature to the project that acknowledges the damage done by the residential school system. Artifacts have been donated by all of the Canadian legislatures as well as former residential schools, churches and cultural buildings such as Friendship Centres, band offices and educational institutions.

The art installation will take the form of a giant cedar witness blanket, which has been created by renowned Vancouver Island artist Carey Newman (Ha-Yalth-Kingeme). Contributions to the project have come from across the country, including pieces of wood, shingle, brick, glass and metal, as well as donations of books, photographs and other mementoes.


Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad –

“We cannot give the victims of the residential schools back their childhood, but we can work to heal the wounds left behind. Every contribution to create a memorial like this amazing witness blanket is an acknowledgement of the past and a step forward to build a new trust and a better future.”

Carey Newman (Ha-Yalth-Kingeme), artist –

“As I near the completion of this project, I become more and more aware of the impacts that it can have. I have seen the healing it has created within my own family. I have also seen how people of various faiths, ethnicities and generations have been inspired to take part. My wish for this piece is that it will affect others the way that the process of making it has affected me. From the beginning, I have had the belief that this work is bigger than any one person and the collective power of these “Pieces of History” confirms that. I am proud and honoured to have this idea so well supported, not only here in British Columbia, but all across Canada. Individuals, organisations and governments have made the Witness Blanket what it is – a testament to the human ability to find something worthwhile, even beautiful, amidst the tragedies, memories and ruins of the Residential School Era.

“I am grateful for the extra effort that the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation has made on our behalf, particularly for taking a leadership role in connecting us with and encouraging the participation of their provincial and territorial counterparts. The contribution of a unique “B.C.” emblazoned doorknob from the legislative building will take its place on the Witness Blanket and will forever mark this gesture of reconciliation.”

Learn More:

Witness Blanket:

Media Contact:
Robin Platts
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 387-1204
250 213-6451 (cell)

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