Abstract 411

Exploring Themes of Reconciliation through Indigenous Art

Presentation:  Christine Bridge, Sara Davidson

Session A | 9:00 – 9:40 | Location: Room 1004


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) (2015) describes the process of reconciliation as establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Calls to action from the TRC have been impactful on educational institutions across Canada. In British Columbia, Aboriginal perspectives are now embedded into all parts of the curriculum, and instruction regarding the history of residential schools begins for students in Grade 5.

As educators look for ways to embed Indigenous perspectives into their teaching practice, many are looking towards art as a way to help facilitate discussion. Although the value of art in reconciliation work is not always clear and is highly subjective, Jonathan Dewar (as cited in Sandels, 2013), director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University, believes that much of its appeal rests in its ability to say the unsayable: “Art gives us a way to access even the most difficult things—those things for which we can’t find the words.” Furthermore, “[t]he recent landmark report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the abuses at residential schools states that art has the extraordinary ability to heal” (Richardson, 2016).

In this presentation, Dr. Sara Davidson and doctoral candidate Christine Bridge share a classroom activity that explores the theme of reconciliation through the lens of art. The activity was designed for education students at the University of British Columbia in order to support further engagement with themes from their coursework and could easily be adapted for younger audiences. The activity consisted of students participating in a self-directed art walk that showcased five to seven artworks in public areas on the UBC campus.

This session will provide a brief overview of the self-directed art walk, as well as provide suggestions for other ways in which educators might engage students in art-based activities that speak to the theme of reconciliation.

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