Queen’s launches Indigenous art show, events ahead of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

This painting by Creations by Can is one of over two dozen works of art on display as part of the 2023 Indigenous Art Display at Queen’s University’s Stauffer Library. Photo by Dylan Chenier/Kingstonist.

For the second year in a row, Stauffer Library at Queen’s University is hosting an Indigenous art showcase as part of the school’s programming ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023. The showcase features a wide assortment of art, including paintings, beading, jewelry, and textile designs, by Indigenous students and other members of the community.

According to Kandice Baptiste, Queen’s University’s Associate Director of Indigenous Initiatives, the showcase was first envisioned by an Indigenous medical student at Queen’s and has now become an annual event.

“It was really successful [last year], so we decided to bring it back this year,” Baptiste said. “There’s paintings, and beadwork, and threadwork… Indigenous folks can bring their own worldview to whatever art form they practice.”

As part of university-wide programming ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 (which will be observed at Queen’s on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023), Baptiste noted the art on display will hopefully generate important dialogue on issues related to truth and reconciliation.

“Art is definitely a way that folks communicate [their] worldview, communicate values, and provoke thoughtful discussions… I think that this is a really important piece of a broader educational week that we have,” she remarked.

With the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation meant to honour the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system, events like the art showcase at Stauffer Library are a way for Indigenous people to celebrate the power of their expression and creativity, especially in light of the ways residential schools attempted to erase these forms of expression.

Baptise explained, “Residential schools were meant to ensure that these types of things didn’t happen. They were meant to ensure that we didn’t know how to be, that we didn’t know our stories, so that we couldn’t relay that to future generations… This is about resurgence, in a way, and continuing our ways of knowing and being.”

The Indigenous Art Display can be found in the Fireplace Reading Room on the second floor of Stauffer Library (101 Union Street) and features approximately 25 different works from 10 artists, including Shannon Beckstead and Kaiya Mongrain. The display is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., September 25-29.

Aside from the art showcase, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s University has scheduled a variety of events throughout the week leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Additional programming includes Indigenous film screenings, conversation series, and lectures. Baptiste noted, “Our hope is that we begin this week throughout the month of September so that we don’t drop everything into the day we acknowledge it.”

While Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023, officially marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, Queen’s University will observe the national day of reflection on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, with all classes and academic activities cancelled that day. A sacred fire will take place at Agnes Benidickson Field at 1 p.m.

Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to wear orange shirts throughout the day to mark the occasion. Orange shirts symbolize a commitment to understand the effects and legacy of residential schools, support survivors, and work toward reconciliation.

More information on how Queen’s University is commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation can be found on the webpage for the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

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