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Witness Blanket displayed by The Exploration Place at UNBC

The Witness Blanket is an art installation created by master carver Carey Newman. It is a monument that recognizes the atrocities of the Indian residential school era, honours the children, and symbolizes ongoing reconciliation.

This cedar-framed artwork, inspired by a woven blanket, includes hundreds of objects recovered from 77 communities across Canada where residential schools were located.

Strewn in the wake of the Indian residential schools are an immeasurable number of broken or damaged pieces. These fragmented cultures, crumbling buildings, segments of language, and grains of diminished pride are often connected only by the common experience that created them. Imagine those objects, symbolic and tangible, woven together in the form of a blanket. A blanket made from stories of residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures.

The Witness Blanket is currently undergoing conservation at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
(CMHR) in Winnipeg after touring Canada for three years. Newman and the CMHR have partnered to
create a reproduction of the Blanket for offer to host venues, allowing its Stories and messages to continue to be shared.

The reproduction was slated to be on display upon The Exploration Place’s grand reopening on June
18. When the reopening had to be delayed until the fall, the museum reviewed every option, deciding to find an alternative home for the installation.

The Exploration Place’s Curator, Alyssa Leier, contacted UNBC officials, who were able to find the perfect place to exhibit the Witness Blanket in the Teaching and Learning Centre.

“The collaborative approach of bringing this national monument to Prince George really speaks to the
importance and power of the art piece,” said Leier. “We are honoured to be able to showcase the Witness Blanket and are so grateful for the assistance of UNBC and the Lheidli T’enneh in helping us get it here.

“As we take steps toward Reconciliation, we must continue to educate ourselves and others about the
horrors of the Residential School system,” says UNBC President Dr. Geoff Payne. &”By partnering with The Exploration Place and the Lheidli T’enneh to display the Witness Blanket at UNBC, we hope it will
encourage people to learn more about the atrocities that took place and the lives that continue to be
impacted by racist, colonial actions.”

The exhibition is available for public viewing.

“Our nation is pleased The Exploration Place was able to bring the Witness Blanket display to our
territory and partner with UNBC,” said Lheidli T’enneh Councillor Seymour. “This is a wonderful opportunity for people to better educate themselves about the dark legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools. The remains of at least 10,000 children lay in unmarked graves on the properties of former Residential Schools across Canada. We must never forget these kids and their families, and the Witness Blanket will help keep their memories alive.”

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