University of Saskatchewan's student artwork showcased by the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission

A group of U of S art students had the opportunity to showcase their work at the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering in Edmonton today. Their creations are part of the Child Taken Project, meant to raise awareness about the history and effect of residential schools on Aboriginal youth through art.

"These are high honours and speak to the success of the project," said Art and Art History Professor Susan Shantz. "This project gave the students an opportunity to learn about the history and impact of residential schools and to hear how young Aboriginal people imagine and express resilience through their art. Artwork is not just about the past, but also about the present and the future. It illustrates how they are coping with a legacy marked by trauma."

The project is a result of a partnership between the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) and the university's Department of Art and Art History. Shantz and her students along with members of the Saskatoon Tribal Council will present the artwork in a formal, public Bentwood Box ceremony. The box is a lasting tribute to all Indian Residential School survivors and will travel with the TRC to its seven national events throughout Canada.

A portfolio of their artwork will become part of the Canadian national archive of symbols of reconciliation.

"In addition to raising awareness about the residential school experience, the Child Taken Project has also been a great opportunity for the students to develop a deeper understanding of the past and expressing that through their artistic work," said Shantz. "We are grateful to have had the opportunity to tell survivors' stories through art."

Nine artwork proposals were developed by the students with one selected by the Elders for enlargement as a mural - are these the same 9 pieces displayed in Edmonton?. Chief Felix Thomas, members of the STC and Elders unveiled the winning piece at a public reception in June 2013 at the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery at the U of S. Plans are underway for the mural to be installed at a prominent location in Saskatoon.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an independent commission established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in the 150-year history of the residential schools and to

guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.


For more information, contact:

Susan Shantz


University of Saskatchewan

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