Felix Thomas (middle) and Susan Shantz (right) in Saskatoon on March 15, 2013. Bre McAdam/News Talk Radio
A group of senior-level University of Saskatchewan art students will begin work on a project this summer to visually represent the aboriginal residential school experience.
The partnership between the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the U of S Art Department was announced during the university’s Aboriginal Symposium on Friday. Shortly after last year’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Tribal Chief Felix Thomas approached the university about coming up with an accessible way to preserve and tell the residential school stories.
“If you show a picture or something visually, people will remember that, as opposed to if you’re reading a book or an academic paper,” said Thomas.
“It’s like ‘boom’, there’s the images. You maybe have to decipher some of the meanings of those things, but it’s not like you have to read a lot of text,” said Susan Shantz, department head for art and art history at the U of S.
She said it will also be a learning experience for the students, who will meet with elders and survivors before deciding what art form the project will take.
“And hear (the stories) really first hand. I think it will give them not just a conceptual response to it but an emotional response to it.”
Thomas said it’s important to tell the residential school story, especially because it was such an isolated historical event.
“If we don’t, then it’s just a blip on the historical map. Well no it wasn’t, because it has a greater impact than just that one event,” he said.
It’s hoped the final project will be displayed at various locations around Saskatoon sometime in the fall.
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