How do children picture reconciliation?
This community public art project, installed on exterior walls of École Luxton School, is a collaboration between École Luxton School students, Mary Kardash Child Care Centre attendees, families, staff, artist Ursula Neufeld, and the Winnipeg Arts Council.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” It is a complex and continuous process that is the responsibility of every Canadian. You can learn more about reconciliation by visiting the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
The artwork is a mosaic created by children who attend École Luxton School and Mary Kardash Child Care Centre. Ursula Neufeld, working with students and their family members, Elder Ellen Cook, and École Luxton School teachers, brought research and discussions about residential schools into the classrooms. Families shared their culture and regalia, demonstrating dances that were then incorporated into the artworks. Through these conversations and teachings, youth from Kindergarten through Grade Six created responsive drawings about the future of reconciliation that were developed into a plan for the mural.
After translating their artworks onto cut and shaped pieces of plywood, the students learned to use mosaic tools for measuring, cutting, placing, and adhering the tiles. Within the mural, the students have emphasized the importance of respecting culture and learning from the land. They have depicted a memorial for children who attended residential school, showing their spirits dancing on the Northern lights. The braided heart section of the mural represents the future of reconciliation, in which 280 children created a likeness of themselves out of tile, outlining the 14-foot heart that encompasses the earth.
“This is a special reconciliation mural. The children dancing in the Aurora Borealis is a memorial for children who died in residential schools. The heart (white braid) and the flying girl (school child with her fancy shawl) are visions of the future theme of reconciliation. All pieces come from the vision and hands of the communities and children involved in each project.”