Community Response Art to Residential Schools

On June 7th and 9th, the students and staff of Kateri School participated in a school wide mural to honor the children found in Kamloops, the children yet to be found and themselves. Both on-site students and remote learners were invited to either place a hand print on the canvas or submit a handprint to be sealed onto the painting. Kanienkeha’ka First Nations Art Therapist and 3rd Generation Residential School Survivor, Megan Kanerahtenhá:wi Whyte (MA, ATPQ, RCAT),  invited each class from nursery to grade 6 to either sit or stand in circles in the outdoor classroom by the school garden space. Together, we talked about Residential Schools within Canada and within our own community in Kahnawake. In this conversation, each child was reminded that they mattered and they were loved. Each staff member, who once were children as well, were reminded that they mattered and they were loved. Whether child or adult, every participant was either a great grandchild, grandchild and child of a Residential School or Indian Day School survivor. Some staff were Indian Day School survivors. This was an important arts-based response to the historical trauma of Residential Schools across Turtle Island, from Kamloops to the traditional lands of the Kanienkeha’ka in Quebec. It created a sense of community across the generations, which is integral to creating cultural safe spaces for Indigenous people. The paintings will be permanently displayed at Kateri School in Kahnawake, which was historically a Day School.  

Art has the power to heal. 

To dialogue. 

To build bridges. 

To connect. 

#everychildmatters

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