Witness Blanket: Sask. Heritage Centre opens exhibit for truth and reconciliation
The Witness Blanket was unveiled at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina on Thursday.
The travelling art piece, inspired by the original woven blanket created by artist Carey Newman, comes from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.
The piece in the Heritage Centre is one of two replicas of the original blanket.
It represents hundreds of reclaimed items from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and traditional structures across the country.
“To say that this is powerful is an understatement” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore. “Seeing those direct remnants and reminders of residential schools, and even more powerful is the stories from the elders speaking of their experience.”
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The Witness Blanket is made up of over 800 objects, each telling an individual story. When pieced together, they aim to tell the overall legacy of the residential schools in Canada.
70 of the objects are from Saskatchewan residential schools.
“We have to find ways to counteract the cycle of trauma,” said David Alexzander Crowe, student at Scott Collegiate.
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Crowe helped the board bring the exhibit to the heritage centre, participating in discussions on its implementation in the most respectful way possible.
“In order to heal the cycle of trauma, you first have to start with the youth and inspire the youth through teachings with the elders.”
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He said that he hopes the exhibit will bring healing to many of his family and friends who suffered abuse in residential schools.
“This exhibit is part of our strategy through truth and reconciliation,” said RCMP Heritage Centre’s CEO, Tara Robinson.
The Heritage Centre worked with an elder advisory group to develop the opening of the exhibit.
“We wanted to do it with a great deal of respect and compassion, through a lense of learning and education,” said Robinson.
Blackmore said that the only way to work towards reconciliation is to acknowledge the past with truth.
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The RCMP is currently trying to recruit Indigenous officers so they can help serve future generations.
“So they can be the protectors of their communities, of their nations, and recognizing the importance of that,” Blackmore said.
The Witness Blanket will be on display at the Heritage Centre for five weeks as of Thursday and can be seen seven days a week.
“At the end of the day, all we can do is grow as a society and learn from our mistakes and become people again,” Crowe said.
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