We Are Sorry

Cathy Busby, We Are Sorry, 2010.

Hanging in the WAG’s two-story Eckhardt Hall, We Are Sorry consists of two 20’ x 45’ banners 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. The installation, by artist Cathy Busby, has been mounted in conjunction with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose seven national events are intended to offer healing to those whose lives have been impacted by the Indian  Residential School system, and understanding to all Canadians. The first of these events will be held in Winnipeg June 16 to 19.

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.

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.”

"Cathy Busby works with language and found imagery to create poignant statements that cause us to re-think and re-examine our understanding of what is presented before us for consideration," says Mary Reid, Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography.  "The WAG is honoured to work with such an important conceptual artist in partnership with the TRC. The installation of We Are Sorry transforms Echkardt Hall into a powerful site of contemplation, accountability and awareness."

Admission to this exhibition only is free. Full Gallery admission applies to all other exhibitions.


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