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Witness Blanket

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THE PROJECT

www.witnessblanket.ca

The blanket is a universal symbol of protection. For many of us, it identifies who we are and where we’re from – we wear them in ceremony and give them as gifts. Blankets protect our young and comfort our elders.

Inspired by a woven blanket, we have created a large scale art installation, made out of hundreds of items reclaimed from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities, from across Canada. The Witness Blanket stands as a national monument to recognise the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honour the children, and symbolise ongoing reconciliation.

Over the past 18 months our project team has traveled all over the country collecting pieces from every province and territory. These “Gathering Trips” have allowed us to meet thousands of Canadians from every walk of life and gather 887 Pieces of History along the way.

DOCUMENTING THE STORIES

From the inception of the project, through the planning, Gathering Trips and finally the creation of the Witness Blanket itself, a team from Media One Multimedia has followed along, gathering video footage, audio and photographs of the process and the very human stories behind the artifacts—stories of pain, reflection, discovery and healing. Building from the collected footage, we are creating a feature length documentary that will tell these important and compelling stories that make up the meaning within the Witness Blanket. Whether it is shown at independent film festivals, broadcast nationally or distributed as curriculum, this documentary will form an important part of our collective history.

We are also creating a Legacy Website and Mobile App. The interactive online version will be a virtual replica of the physical Witness Blanket that can be explored via computers and apps for tablets and smart phones. This will bring all the video, audio, photos and stories from the gathering process into the home/classroom/handheld of anyone with Internet access. Users will be able to stand in front of the monument and interact with art, history and culture on an unprecedented scale. Filters will be included to edit the content for various age levels making an ideal platform to be woven into curriculum for all ages.

THE ARTIST

Being of British, Kwagiulth and Salish descent, West Coast Master Carver Carey Newman has been able to draw upon each of these cultures for his inspiration. While this adds a contemporary flare to his work, he is very careful to adhere to traditional rules and values. Mastering as many techniques and mediums as possible is one of the keys to his continual inspiration. Wood, stone, gold, silver, gems, glass, painting and more recently steel and bronze are all mediums that Carey works with. In 2008, Carey was selected as the master carver of the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, a journey that saw him travel the province of BC sharing the carving experience of carving a 20’ totem with over 11,000 people. His large installation piece entitled “Dancing Wind”, created for the 2010 Olympic Games, consisted of 4 large panels, made from stainless steel, cedar and glass. Community work is important to him. Acting as a mentor he worked with over 80 youth participants in the Victoria Native Friendships Center’s EAGLE Project to create two monumental totems. He has done work for corporations, government agencies and museums around the world and is continually thankful for the opportunity to try new mediums and share new ideas.

Finding ways to innovate without disregarding history is extremely important to Carey. It was this creative instinct, combined with knowing and feeling the pain that Residential School caused for his own father that motivated him to create the Witness Blanket.

As I near the completion of this project, I become more and more aware of the impacts that it can have. I have seen the healing it has created within my own family. I have also seen how people of various faiths, ethnicities and generations have been inspired to take part. My wish for this piece is that it will affect others the way that the process of making it has affected me. From the beginning, I have had the belief that this work is bigger than any one person and the collective power of these “Pieces of History” confirms that. I am proud and honoured that this idea has been so well supported, not only here in British Columbia, but all across Canada. Individuals, organisations and governments have made the Witness Blanket what it is – a testament to the human ability to find something worthwhile, even beautiful, amidst the tragedies, memories and ruins of the Residential School Era.” – Carey Newman

REQUIREMENTS FOR DISPLAYING THE WITNESS BLANKET

  • Enough space to allow individuals to walk fully around the entire blanket and walk through the door at the centre
  • An accessible space that is open to the public and does not involve an entry fee
  • A secure space with full time supervision
  • An indoor space – the Witness Blanket contains artifacts which must be protected from extreme elements
  • An electrical outlet to plug in a projector mounted to the Witness Blanket that displays images and documents
  • An available internet connection so that individuals can access the Witness Blanket app on their smart phone or tablet (preferred but not required.

WITNESS BLANKET SPECIFICATIONS

  • Length: Full Display – 40ft. Smaller configurations are also possible.
  • Height: 10.5ft
  • Weight: Approximately 3500lbs

Please see page 5 for a scaled graphic of the Witness Blanket

TRANSPORTATION OF THE WITNESS BLANKET

The Witness Blanket separates into individual panels to travel and each panel has its own traveling crate. We will send a Witness Blanket team member to oversee the installation and take-down of the piece at each tour stop. Storage space will be required for the crates while the Blanket is on display.

  • Number of Crates: 15
  • Length: 8 feet
  • Width: 4 feet
  • Depth: 2 feet
  • Weight When Full: 300lbs
  • Weight When Empty: 80lbs

Witness Blanket Contact Information
Rosy Hartman, Project Coordinator
rosy@witnessblanket.ca or 1 (250)-893-9449 or toll free 1-855-888-6998

THE WITNESS BLANKET

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One thought on “Witness Blanket”

  1. I viewed the Witness Blanket last Wednesday at the CMHR in Winnipeg and I listened to Carey Newman speak.
    I would like to join with others to find a way to help communities in Northern Manitoba gain access to this great work and this great artist.

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