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Public art in Burlington to commemorate residential school victims

Public art in Burlington to commemorate residential school victims

A temporary public art installation called “A Hope for Healing” will go up on the west lawn of Spencer Smith Park. The goal of the artwork is reconciliation and remembering; to commemorate the lost children recently discovered at the Kamloops Residential School.

The artwork will be installed on June 19 and will be on display daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June 21. The last day of the exhibit is on National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada.

Community Initiated Public Art

This installation was initiated by Amber Ruthart (White Bear First Nations, Treaty #4) in partnership with the City of Burlington’s Community Initiated Public Art Policy. The City of Burlington Public Art Program is committed to supporting community-led projects through public art resources and, where applicable, access to City-owned parks and facilities

Artist’s Statement – Amber Ruthart (White Bear First Nations, Treaty #4)

“A Hope for Healing consists of donated shoes, dresses and red material from Burlington Community. The artwork is 2D moveable and will be shaped into a giant strawberry, the symbol of healing.  Strawberries are called ode’min in the Ojibway language. Ode means heart and when cut open, strawberries look like a heart. This performance art installation honours those who are grieving the Kamloops Residential School. The intent of the artwork is to help our community recognize that there is ongoing systemic racism and process Canada’s ‘unthinkable’ historical discovery.

The Kamloops Indian Residential school was one of the largest in Canada and operated from the late 19th century to the late 1970s. It was opened and run by the Catholic Church until the federal government took it over in the late 1960s.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimate more than 4,000 children died while at residential schools over a period of several decades, but the final commission report acknowledges it is impossible to know the true number. The ‘hope for healing’ is an artist interpretation honouring the lost children through visual art and awareness.

Thank you to Burlington Together for the donated children’s shoes and materials. The shoes will be donated to COVID-19-Relief programs in Burlington.

“A child’s schoolyard needs a playground, not a graveyard.”

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