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Canadore College and Nipissing University invite community to thought-provoking Witness Blanket Exhibit

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The Witness Blanket Exhibit from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) will be housed in The Village at the Education Centre Campus at the Canadore College/Nipissing University campus beginning Monday, January 22 until Friday, February 16. – Photo supplied

NORTH BAY (January 19, 2024) – Canadore College and Nipissing University invite the community to the Witness Blanket Exhibit from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), which will be housed in The Village at the Education Centre Campus beginning Monday, January 22 until Friday, February 16. Community members are welcome to view the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Inspired by a woven blanket, the Witness Blanket is a 12-metre-long work of art, created by multi-disciplinary Indigenous artist, master carver, filmmaker, author and public speaker Carey Newman, which contains hundreds of items reclaimed from Indian Residential Schools, churches, government buildings, and traditional and cultural structures across Canada.

The exhibit on display in The Village is one of two reproductions that have been created for offer to other venues, allowing its stories and messages to continue being shared. The original Witness Blanket is currently housed at the CMHR awaiting installation in its core galleries. In these wood‐framed reproductions, direct‐printed wood panels take the place of the original artifacts and interior frames.

“There are many stories represented within the Witness Blanket. To Indigenous peoples, those stories depicted in the Witness Blanket symbolize pieces of our ancestors’ lives and continue to impact our day-to-day existence,” shared Dr. Cindy Peltier, Associate Professor, Chair in Indigenous Education and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Matters at Nipissing University. “These are not merely pieces of history, but parts of our being. When you visit the Witness Blanket, remember that each image or artifact represents a piece of life lived on this land. Above all, remember that bearing witness to this essential artistic contribution will ensure that this part of history is never repeated. Miigwech.”

More than 130 Indian Residential Schools operated across Canada. Part of a broader process of colonization and genocide, the Indian Residential School System was a deliberate attempt to destroy First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and ways of life.  

“Canadore’s First Peoples’ Centre recognizes collaboration as a catalyst for dialogue, fostering reflection, and awareness,” said Sarah Julian, Interim Director, Canadore College First Peoples’ Centre. “Collaboration between the Library, Nipissing, and Canadore for this exhibit strengthens our commitment to truth and reconciliation. Uniting efforts contributes to an informed, compassionate community, promoting shared learning, and guiding ongoing dialogue which embodies the exhibit’s essence.”

“The Witness Blanket Exhibit is a powerful representation of a tragic time in Canada’s history,” said George Burton, Canadore President and CEO. “Having the exhibit on campus for the public to view will promote awareness and advance our commitment to reconciliation.” 

“Bringing the Nipissing University, Canadore College, and broader communities together to learn from this thought-provoking exhibit is an example of taking steps towards reconciliation,” offered Dr. Kevin Wamsley, President and Vice-Chancellor at Nipissing University. “The stories told through this work of art serve as a powerful message of the historical truth about Residential Schools in Canada, a truth that all of us must grasp before reconciliation is possible.”

Free parking will be available for visitors to the exhibit in lots 8 and 5 starting January 22.

Community organizations interested in bringing groups to the exhibit, please reach out to info.village@canadorecollege.ca. Teachers interested in bringing students to the exhibit can reach out to Laura Sinclair at lauras@nipissingu.ca.

For more information about the Witness Blanket exhibit, visit www.witnessblanket.ca.

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Media Contacts:

Carly Johnston
Communications Officer
Nipissing University
(705) 474-3450 ext. 4035
communications@nipissingu.ca

Cindy Males
Public Relations and Communications Specialist
Canadore College
(705) 475-2538
cindy.males@canadorecollege.ca

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