The Residential School System - Witness Blanket
The residential school system is one of the worst atrocities in Canadian history. The reasoning behind this systematic attempt by the Canadian government and various churches in Canada including the Catholic Church and Anglican Church was to destroy the culture, beliefs and ways of being and ways of knowing of Indigenous peoples. The residential school system was designed to "assimilate" Indigenous peoples into Canadian society but it actually represented a cruel form of genocide. This genocide of identity and culture is an abhorrent and embarrassing period of history for Canada, with a far-reaching impact on Indigenous peoples today. The effects of the system linger in many Indigenous communities, and issues of resentment, poverty and loss of identity continue to plague many Indigenous peoples.
The Witness Blanket (WB) is a national monument of the Residential School system. Artist and Master CarverCarey Newman was inspired by a woven blanket to create a large-scale art installation from items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, and traditional and cultural entities, Band Offices, treatment centres and universities across Canada. The blanket stands to honour the children and the survivors through acknowledgement of the atrocities of the Residential School era. It is an important symbol of the reconciliation process that creates an entry point for witnesses to contribute further. It is a symbol of reconciliation.
Goal Statement: To consider the impact of the Witness Blanket in relation to UFV's Board Policy on Fulfilling Our Commitment to Aboriginal Peoples BRP-200.05
By the end of this session, learners will:
1. identify the circumstances of Aboriginal peoples in relation to Residential Schools
2. examine the impact of Residential Schools on Aboriginal peoples and others in Canada.
3. envision my personal role in Reconciliation
Child & Youth Studies
The Witness Blanket
Review the Witness Blanket website and watch the video on the website called "Witness Blanket Documentary Trailer, 2015".
Consider the following questions:
What is the significance of the Witness Blanket?
How does this art installation make you feel about the fundamental question of justice particularly in relation to Indigenous peoples?
What are you witnessing through visiting the Witness Blanket?
How are you impacted as a witness?
Having witnessed the Witness Blanket, have you changed your view of social justice, ethics and morality in your field of study?
The Witness Blanket
Take a good look at the Witness Blanket (a full picture is provided in the Witness Blanket website), or from this App Itunes witness blanket app
or visit in person while the Witness Blanket is at UFV
What part of the Witness Blanket speaks to you the most? Why?
How does the significance of the Witness Blanket relate to your learning in your Access and Continuing Education courses?
What does this mean to you, your beliefs and values?
The Winess Blanket at Vancouver Island University
Please watch this video from the Witness Blanket at Vancouver Island University. The video speaks of the significance of the Witness Blanket and Truth and Reconciliation.
What does the Witness Blanket mean for current and future generations of Indigenous peoples in Canada? For all Canadians?
What does it mean to contemplate our individual roles in reconciliation?
Misconceptions of the Residential School System