There is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools


Legacy Downtown – 630 Yates St.

September 23, 2017 to January 6, 2018

Guest curated by Dr. Andrea N. Walsh, Anthropology, UVic.

View the exhibition website here

There is Truth Here brings a new line to bear on the role of art as part of children’s knowledge, identity, and experiences of Indian Residential and Day Schools. Through paintings, drawings, sewing, beading, drumming, and singing, and drama produced by children and youth who attended them in British Columbia and Manitoba the exhibition seeks to contribute in vital and new ways to dialogues and initiative about true telling, reconciliation, and redress in Canada.

The first person perspectives of Survivors and former students, their families, and communities are told via children’s creativity to bring a multi-generational perspective on the lives of children in the schools. The exhibition explores the common thread of historical resilience in the creation of the artworks, and speaks to the importance of the art today as nodes of healing and resurgence.

Media: “Art of Innocence in Dark Times” Times Colonist | Galleries West First Nations children’s art, created at residential and day schools, opens pathways for healing and reconciliation“, Focus Magazine.

Image: Courtesy of Osoyoos Museum Society.


Panel Discussion & Public Celebration

Legacy Downtown | 630 Yates St. | September 30, 2017 | 2:30 – 5pm

Two back to back public events on Orange Shirt Day. A public celebration of the exhibition There Is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools including welcoming speeches, a performance by A.N.S.W.E.R. drumming group (All Nations Strong Womyn for Education and Reconciliation), and refreshments and light food from Seefood Catering.

Public Celebration | 4 – 5pm | Panel Discussion | 2:30 – 4pm

Creative Acts: Art and Resilience in an Era of Reconciliation

Residential school Survivors, artists, students, and museum- based scholars will share their diverse range of experiences and perspectives on how creativity and art can be used as acts and forms of resilience. Set within the context of the exhibition There is Truth Here, the six panelists and moderator Dr. Andrea Walsh will explore how art in various forms in public spaces can be critical tools for change in the wake of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in the midst of the National Inquiry for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Panel Participants

Mark Atleo was born in 1952 in Tofino, British Columbia and he is a member of the Ahousaht First Nation. He grew up in Ahousaht with his mom, dad, and 9 siblings. At 8 years of age he began attendance at the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) until the age of 16. In 1968 he moved to Victoria and finished his high school diploma at Oak Bay High School. In 2013 Mark joined the University of Victoria’s project to repatriate children’s art from the Alberni Indian Residential School after his own painting was returned to him at the National Event for Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver. Through his work with the University of Victoria research group, his story is now part of the permanent exhibition of residential school history in the new Canada Hall at the Canadian Museum of History. He continues to share his story with a personal goal of educating present and future generations about residential schools in Canada, and is a supporter of continued dialogue about the schools as a form of reconciliation.

Lindsay Delaronde is an Iroquois, Mohawk woman, born and raised on the Kahnawake reservation. She holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design and a MFA and a Masters of Counselling from the University of Victoria. In 2016 Legacy Art Gallery featured her exhibition IN DEFIANCE that challenged stereotypes of Indigenous women. She is currently the Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Victoria.

Dr. Jennifer C. Robinson has recently defended her PhD thesis in Visual Anthropology and Materiality in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Victoria. She holds an MA from University London, and has studied at University of British Columbia and Mount Royal University. She has won many academic awards including University of Victoria President’s Research Scholarship and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, Doctoral Fellowship. Her research is driven by her love of arts and culture, and by her belief that exhibitions, galleries, and museums can be spaces that create change. As a Visual Anthropologist, her research is focused on the diversity of Canadian culture.

Lorilee Wastasecoot is an Ininu iskwew (Cree woman) with roots in York Factory Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. Lorilee grew up in Winnipeg, MB and respectfully acknowledges the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations on whose territory she currently resides. She is a recent Political Science graduate of the University of Victoria. In 2015, Lorilee and her family first became aware of a painting her father, James Wastasecoot, created in Robert Aller’s art class in Dauphin, MB at the Mackay Indian Residential School where her father spent 12 years of his life. Lorilee is a fourth generation inter-generational residential school survivor.

Gina Laing (Cootes) and her daughter April Laing are members of the Uchuklesaht First Nation, and their home community is Kildonan Reserve on the Alberni Inlet. Gina was a student of Robert Aller’s in the late 1950s and she has worked alongside her daughter April to use her childhood art, and experience of residential school to teach Canadians about this era of their country’s history. In 2015 they recorded the story of the repatriation of Gina’s childhood paintings from the Alberni Indian residential school from Gina’s perspective as a Survivor, and April’s perspective as an Intergenerational Survivor at the Canadian Museum of History. Gina’s painting and their story as mother and daughter now appear in the new Canada Hall at the national museum.