I was recently honoured with the opportunity to speak at the Alberta opening of the Witness Blanket, an art installation made up of reclaimed items from Indian Residential Schools, currently on display at the Central Calgary Public Library. After hearing the drums and seeing two brothers who had been to residential schools smudge the artwork, everything I’d planned on saying went out the window. It was so incredibly moving that I was almost at a loss for words. The piece is so striking – it looks almost like a quilt, which is usually a comforting item, but is made up of 800 pieces left over from one of the most painful parts of Canadian history.
Standing in downtown Calgary on historic Treaty 7 territory, next to this monument to reconciliation, I thought of another work of art that provoked a similar feeling, a play I saw last year called The Making of Treaty 7. Since we have come to live on that land because of the treaty, all Calgarians are a part of that history. We are all treaty people. Once we acknowledge that we will all be able to move towards reconciliation and healing.
Pieces like this show how powerful and important art can be. At its best, it can open up a conversation, provoke strong emotions, and leave you temporarily speechless. Every Calgarian, all of us treaty people, should take this opportunity to head to the library to see this powerful, moving artwork.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.