North Delta students take part in Witness Blanket project
As part of a powerful reconciliation event recognizing the lasting impact of residential schools, three Delview Secondary School students presented the Witness Blanket project with a black fleece blanket that is of particular importance to aboriginal students in the Delta School District.
“This blanket is what we wrap the aboriginal Grade 12 graduates in during our District Recognition Ceremony held in June. It is our way of acknowledging, promoting and honouring the grads in their struggles with the past, stereotyping, academic challenges and excellence,” said Molly Faubert, a Grade 11 student, during the Witness Blanket ceremony.
Witness Blanket is an art project being undertaken as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Commemoration Initiative. First Nations artist Carey Newman from Sooke on Vancouver Island is travelling across the country collecting items that signify residential schools and the reconciliation process. Once items have been collected from all of Canada, the items will be put together to form an art piece symbolizing a blanket. Blanketing is a meaningful tradition among aboriginal cultures in Canada.
“My mother explains blanketing as when you are lying on a couch and someone covers you with a blanket. You feel loved, cared for and protected,” said Grade 11 student Chanel Fasciglione.
Once the Witness Blanket artwork is complete, it will tour Canada as recognition of the atrocities of the Indian residential school era, an honouring of the children who attended these schools, and a symbol of ongoing reconciliation. As part of the gathering process of items for the artwork, a gathering ceremony recently took place in Surrey hosted by the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Center. Delview Secondary School wanted to donate an item to the project as part of the school’s and the Delta School District’s commitment to enhancing knowledge of aboriginal cultures and history (including residential schools) among all students, and continuing to improve the educational experience for Aboriginal students.
“I am honoured to be here today participating in this amazing art work that recognizes the atrocities perpetrated on Aboriginal people through residential schools. At Delview Secondary, where I work, we are making strides to educate our school population about residential schools and incorporating aboriginal ways of being into our teaching and learning,” said Mark Robinson, vice-principal at Delview.
The three Delview students who took part in the ceremony were Faubert, who is Metis, Fasciglioni, who is Metis Cree, and Kristina James, who is Tio’witis and Sto’lo.
As they presented their blanket, James, a Grade 10 student, explained the design on it: “The blanket is black fleece with two embroidered logos on opposite corners. One corner has the Delta School District logo with the phrase Inspired Learning. The other corner is the District’s aboriginal program logo. It shows two mountains, the medicine wheel and a river. The medicine wheel represents all nations. The mountain represents our area we live in, and the river represents how it all flows together. It also represents change, pride, and success for all aboriginals across Canada.”
More information about the Witness Blanket project can be found at witnessblanket.ca