WAG Installation Honours Truth and Reconciliation Commission
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hosts the first of its seven national events in Winnipeg June 16 to 19, the Winnipeg Art Gallery will play an important role. Hanging in the WAG’s two-story Eckhardt Hall will be We Are Sorry, two 20’ x 45’ vinyl panels containing excerpts from the 2008 landmark apologies to Aboriginal peoples for the Indian Residential Schools and the “Stolen Generations” respectively by Prime Ministers Stephen Harper of Canada and Kevin Rudd of Australia. Artist Cathy Busby will give a talk on the project at 7pm, Thursday, June 10 at the WAG. The installation will be opened at 6:30pm,Tuesday, June 15 at a ceremony attended by the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We Are Sorry will be complemented by two large ink-jet prints of Harper and Rudd, from Busby’s Sorry series, images of the mouths of those featured in news stories—politicians, sports figures, CEOs—who have made public apologies for a wide range of wrong-doings.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is important for healing and understanding between all Canadians, a critical part of our national history, and the WAG is very honoured to be part of it,” says WAG Director Stephen Borys. “Cathy’s work speaks to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and we hope that our visitors this summer will take time not only to stop and read the words but to really ponder them and take them to heart”
Busby, who has done versions of this work in Halifax; Whitehorse; and Melbourne, Australia, was approached by Chief Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC, asking if she would be interested in replicating it in Winnipeg as part of the TRC Winnipeg event.
“These apologies for the stolen generations in Australia and the Indian residential schools systems in Canada were of major significance when they were delivered, and yet each was a relatively fleeting moment,” says Busby. “We are Sorry gives them a renewed and sustained presence highlighting the shared histories of these two British colonies. I hope this work will encourage dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people while promoting deeper understanding of the damage caused by colonizing practices. I hope also that it will contribute to enlarging the issues as the non-spectacular post-apology negotiation processes continue in both countries.”
On June 16, from 4-7pm, the TRC will also be screening Older than America in the WAG’s Muriel Richardson Auditorium. This drama delves into the lasting impact of the cultural genocide and loss of identity that occurred at these institutions across the United States and Canada.
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