Aboriginal Residential Schools
8"x10" oil on wood
There are two things in life that move my emotions to either extreme on the scale: They are with out a doubt the happiness of a child and the sadness of a child. When I see a child, not necessarily my own, who is happy and joyful it also brings happiness and joy to my heart. Likewise, when I see a child who is sad or hurt it really goes to the deepest part of my soul.
Such is the case of the Aboriginal Residential Schools. Since their very inception in the late 1800's in Canada, children from Aboriginal homes across Canada were removed to live in facilities geared towards education and reforming their minds and lives, or so it was thought. Let me say for the record of this blog that it is clear that most of the staff of those institutions were not participants in the abuse of the children, many of the staff were simply ignorant or kept away from knowing the sad truths unfolding behind closed doors. Those who inflicted the pain and damage on those children's lives were truly monsters of the highest order. In this posting I do not wish to dwell on them as they are being dealt with one by one through both the courts and the courts of public opinion and shame. For this posting I choose to focus on the children.
While I remain a truly proud Canadian, and proud of so many wonderful aspects of this great land, I also stand with those who feel utter shame and pain at the very sound of those words: Residential Schools. From time to time the news carries images of those children in their classrooms, sitting at desks and all the while you know the horror some of them were living through. Each time I see them or hear about them my heart withers in pain and sadness. I wish there was something that I could do. Certainly no one can erase it all. Certainly no one can even rewrite the past. But we can share our thoughts and make certain it never happens again. We can show love and compassion to those victims and relatives of victims who carry with them the pain of the experiences.
This brings me to the point of this posting. Some time ago I determined that I would do a painting that expresses my inner most feeling about this sad part of our history. My painting would address each of the elements of the story and leave out mentioning the inflictors of the pain (They have received enough attention). My painting would support the survivors and give hope for a better future. It would not simply generalize the entire group of victims but draw attention to their individuality as humans and persons of importance.
I want to say that I am not Aboriginal, neither am I related in any way to Aboriginals. I have no connection to any survivor of the Residential Schools. I am also not a practicing artist of Aboriginal art. Having said that I want to say how moved I am at the methods and colours used by Aboriginal artists. I have veered off of my usual and known style of painting to create this piece I present here to you called "Healing". Mine is an effort to share my inner most feelings and to approach healing in a meaningful way. May I encourage you the reader to share this story and image of my painting with others who would benefit from it spiritually, emotionally or who also would like some form of expression for what they feel with regards to this history.
What this painting symbolizes:
The red background: represents the ground where Aboriginals grew their crops.
The Sun: represents the sun and sky, the Aboriginals relied on the sun to help grow their crops.
The water: The Aboriginals relied on the water to provide for fishing and transportation.
The Peace Pipe: A symbol and instrument of peace between Aboriginals and non-aboriginals. In this case a symbol of peace, an expression of this artist asking forgiveness on behalf of this country, and hope for healing.
The string holding the feathers: The common thread of each of the survivors.
The feathers: represents the innocent individual children who are now survivors. Each feather is unique as are each of the children who suffered. Each has it's own story as do the children who endured.
The eagle on the mouth piece: Carrying us forward, may we never forget and never allow this to happen ever again.
In addition to this post I am including some links here for more information regarding the history, current court proceedings/settlements, and support groups for survivors of the residential School system. http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca/schools.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_systemhttp://www.ahf.ca/contact-ushttp://www.sacsbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=145&Itemid=390
The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.