Vancouver, Canada: Artists Explore Year of Reconciliation
We live in interesting times. In Canada, Aboriginal rights are becoming a primary part of the political landscape. We are embarking on a long journey to recognize injustice and develop new partnership and governance models. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was a five-year project established to witness the stories and address the harm done by Indian Residential Schools and to set the country on a path of healing. In the spirit of this project, the City of Vancouver established a Year of Reconciliation from June 2013 to June 2014, working in partnership with Reconciliation Canada. The year-long effort included gatherings, intercultural dialogue and storytelling workshops, public education, and cultural arts programs as ways to mend the past, build shared understanding, and to create a legacy for meaningful change in society.
To honour and celebrate the City's Year of Reconciliation, the Public Art Program commissioned ten new artist projects in 2014 for an eight-month public exhibition of changing two-dimensional artworks.
The series of artworks appearing in bus shelters; on video screens located in the downtown core; as large-scale banners in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library downtown; and as an over-sized photo mural at the Canada Line City Centre Station. The artworks were created by ten Canadian artists from diverse backgrounds: Vancouver, Toronto, Hong Kong, and Metis, Tahltan, Upper Nicola Band, Sechelt, Secwepemc, Wuikinuxv/ Klahoose and Kwakwaka’wakw Nations. You can read the bios of the artists here. The artists also presented a public talk about their artworks and the context of reconciliation.
Artist Jeremy Borsos says, “This project was a remarkable social expression for everyone involved. Beyond challenging - it was outside the realm of what most public cultural engagement asks for.”
The City of Vancouver is now embarking on a commitment to be a City of Reconciliation – a long-term vision for instituting change. We envision more public artworks to remind us about indigenous rights and reconciliation.