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'Honouring the Children' exhibition features work of a dozen Indigenous artists


Sparrow Artspace is hosting an emotion packed free exhibit at its northeast gallery for the month of September.

It's honouring the lost children and survivors of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.

Sheila Norris, the executive director of the Colour it Forward Reconciliation Society, hopes the exhibition starts conversation with visitors.

"All of the art in here is so emotional because it does tell a story," she said. "It does tell something about the horrors that we're in, the history but it also has hope."

Norris would like to see young and old from every culture experience the exhibit and witness the different ways Indigenous artists have embraced the theme of it and to tell their own story.

"Through reconciliation, taking action is opening those conversations," said Norris. "Having those conversations, having the truth and the stories and the memories be there so that we can go forward in healing."

Tory Manywounds has two pieces on display, one called 'Up' and the other called 'Healing III'.

"So Sparrow Artspace providing a platform to highlight some of the best and brightest people that are under the umbrella of being Indigenous as a whole, I think that's important," he said.

"I think every piece of artwork here speaks to everyone's experience individually, and there's a collective energy of it all as well, I think that's why we're here to celebrate and honor the children and their ancestors, ultimately."

Manywounds would like visitors to ask the artists about their work and what the meaning is so they can learn how to be an ally and take action because in the end that is what reconciliation is about.

"Almost every Indigenous person has a connection to residential school, to the Sixties Scoop," said Manywounds.

"For us, as artists, how we translate those feelings into the visual arts is different for everyone, you can see, as you look around the room, you'll see everybody's different style and things that connect to me may be different than another artist in the room but at the end of the day, the meanings are still the same."

Dale Swampy's star quilt is displayed in the front window of the gallery.

It's titled 'At What Cost' and features images of small red hands on an orange blanket. He did a lot of research on the origins of star quilts before creating his piece.

"I learned that the Lakota Sioux started making them and then later on in, they brought it to residential schools were actually my older brother learned how to make them," he said.

"Then after they closed them down, they started teaching in the Canadian prisons where I happen to take a program where a guy was teaching them, and I just continued making them after that. I figured, since the children learned how to sew, it was supposed to be a skill but there was a lot of tragedy that happened there but like such a beautiful thing, like making these blankets came out of there as well."

Diana Frost's painting is the image of a young girl with one half showing her in colourful traditional attire in front of family and a teepee. The other half is black and white with her hair cut and in front of a residential school.

"A lot of people see things in the child's face that I didn't even intend," she said. "But I'm glad because I feel like one of the things we need to do is we need to get people to care more about making change, about taking action, about learning and about reaching out to indigenous people and helping them heal."

Visitors to the gallery have a number of opportunities to have conversations with artist and even participate in a quilting project throughout the month of September leading up to Calgary's fifth annual Orange Shirt Day Walk and National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.

"It's an opportunity to connect with Indigenous people," said Frost.

"Talk with them about their art, have a conversation, ask your questions you know, because that's how we're going to get to reconciliation is dispelling stereotypes as learning is creating relationships."

Learn more about the 'Honouring the Children' exhibition here. Top Stories

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