Vancouver, Canada: Artists Explore Year of Reconciliation

Posted by Karen Henry, Aug 25, 2015 0 comments

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.

Reconciliation, Photo Credit Biran Liu













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. 

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