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  1. ssJackson_Savage_1adj low res copy.jpg

    Lisa Jackson, Savage (video), 2009.
    Production-still photo: Kris Krüg

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Art and Canada's Indian Residential Schools

September 6-December 1, 2013




OPENING: September 7, 1-2 pm, Performance of Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s The Lesson and 2-4 pm, Opening remarks and reception
ARTIST TALKS: September 8, 1:30 pm with Jamasie Pitseolak and Tania Willard
PERFORMANCE: September 26, 12:30 pm by Peter Morin
ARTIST TALK: October 10, 12:30 pm with Beau Dick
ARTIST TALK: October 31, 12:30 pm with Cathy Busby
SYMPOSIUM: November 15 Traumatic Histories, Artistic Practice, and Working from the Margins Watch the MORNING SESSION and AFTERNOON SESSION
BELKIN 101: A Weekly Reading Group
CONCERT: Friday, November 29, 2 pm with UBC Contemporary Players
PERFORMANCE: Sunday, December 1, 12:30 pm by Peter Morin

Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools presents artists who have produced work arising from the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and coincides with, but is independent from, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada National Event that will take place in Vancouver from September 18 to 21, 2013. The exhibition features artists from British Columbia and across Canada, and is cross-generational to include those who directly experienced Indian Residential Schools as well as those who are witnesses to its ongoing impact. There is a sense in which we all must be witnesses. Witnesses aims to contribute to the education of the public about Indian Residential Schools, to illustrate how this issue has become embedded in Canadian art history and to demonstrate the strong social and cultural capacity of art. Combined, the works in the exhibition represent a convergence of various voices addressing this often difficult aspect of Canada’s colonial history.

The exhibition includes iconic historical works by artists such as Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Alex Janvier and Norval Morrisseau, as well as more recent work and special commissions by some of Canada’s most respected contemporary artists. Works have been sourced from across Canada and borrowed from artists, collectors and museums. Other artists include Gerry Ambers, Carl Beam, Rebecca Belmore, Chris Bose, Cathy Busby, Beau Dick, Faye HeavyShield, Lisa Jackson, Gina Laing, Peter Morin, Jamasie Pitseolak, Skeena Reece, Sandra Semchuk and James Nicholas, Henry Speck, Adrian Stimson, Tania Willard and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Public and educational programming will include guided tours, lectures, artist talks, performances and online programs.

Witnesses is curated by Geoffrey Carr, Dana Claxton, Tarah Hogue, Shelly Rosenblum, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Keith Wallace and Scott Watson. This project is made possible with the generous support of the Audain Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, the British Columbia Arts Council and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the UBC Hampton Fund.

Health Supports

Working with Residential School history can be very stressful. If you encounter distress, resources are available. Please click here to learn more or call 1-866-925-4419 to access the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line.


The following comments have been entered at a kiosk available to visitors to the gallery. Only the 10 most recent comments are shown, see more on the comments page.

moira movanna from New West at 3:56 pm Sunday, December 1, 2013

[ In reply to Iris from Prague, CZ at 1:59 pm Friday, November 22, 2013 ] I like what you have written. People need to realize the effect of the past on the present. Not only for those whose healing is denied because of this lack of recognition because of it but also for our own.

moira movvanna from New Westminster, British Columbia at 3:50 pm Sunday, December 1, 2013

You show great courage to trust again. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The denial of a pattern of thought that allowed this genocide to occur is passed down from generation to generation. "The sins of the father" if not challenged permeates everything that we think and do, the decisions that we make. I read a quote this summer in a book written by a group of people committed to the prevention of genocide around the world. "If you have the courage to speak out, know this, you hold the world in your hands".

Julie from Stella Reserve at 2:36 pm Sunday, December 1, 2013

powerful and emotional works that depict the experiences of residential school

Jordana at 2:34 pm Sunday, December 1, 2013

All of them were powerful and amazing.

Savannah from Downtown Eastside at 4:45 pm Saturday, November 30, 2013

to carry..... as witness

Laiwan from Vancouver at 4:12 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

Thank you for a powerful show. The new works by Skeena Reece, Rebecca Belmore and Faye Heavyshield are exceptionally moving.

kathleen rose at 1:49 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

until i speak, i cannot heal. until i open, i cannot hear. this art helps us all to heal...truth and reconciliation.

Lou Jurcik at 12:29 pm Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thank you to those who expressed their history, their experience. Thank you to those who helped give it a place of honor, a platform for expression. Thanks to those who stopped to consider the effects and to address them as they can. May I/we use my time and resources wisely, productively, in accordance with my values.

Yi at 3:46 pm Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's great that UBC provides a space for the expression of the raw emotions that were felt. It's an unfortunate piece of history that should be known by the public so that we will always repent and learn from these horrific crimes.

Lewis and Michelle Birdseye, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. at 4:38 pm Friday, November 22, 2013

O Lacrimae rerum -- Oh the bitter, bitter tears of things. But rejoice in the power and beauty of art and in those brave souls who dare to expose us all to the truth.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689