In Manitoba 76 schools were involved in the creation of the tiles through their learning in Project of Heart. The Winnipeg School District- Aboriginal Education Department commissioned Victoria Elaine MacIntosh to create the exhibit titled the “Tree of Life”.
Victoria Elaine is herself a residential school survivor and has expressed how this project has been healing for her and her family and friends. She is a residential school survivor from the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School comes from a family of three generations of family members attending residential schools. The art exhibit symbolizes a story that honours the survivors and students who passed on in the residential school system.
It depicts our indigenous children who were uprooted and placed in residential schools, as the reflection of the leaves (tiles), with the roots being the strength that connects Indigenous people today to the land, family and way of life. It also displays a disconnection from identity, family, language and culture, but will also share the vibrant healing journey we are continuing through reconciliation.
Schools from all across Manitoba have participated in Project of Heart and this commemoration exhibit process. This piece will be exhibited permanently at The Forks; a very sacred Indigenous historic site that hundreds of thousands of people visit every year.