The Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre (LCSC) held a reception for The Child Taken art exhibit on March 14, which featured guest speakers including Felix Thomas, tribal chief of the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Eugene Arcand, residential school survivor and overseer for the project.
The exhibit, presented by the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Saskatchewan, brings awareness through paintings the history and effects that residential schools had on the First Nations communities between the 1870s and 1990s.
Arcand expressed gratitude toward the city of Lloydminster for being the first community outside of Saskatoon to feature the exhibit.
“Every time it’s been unveiled it’s been gratifying, but this is the first time it’s been unveiled in a city other than Saskatoon,” he said. “So I just want to say that I applaud Lloydminster and the (Lloydminster) Cultural and Science Centre for setting the precedent and I hope that other small cities follow that lead for their public education in their communities.”
He said he feels it’s important to remember what happened in residential schools and to understand the impact that they had, and continue to have, not just in the First Nations community, but in the settler community as well.
“I’d encourage people to challenge themselves and get out of that comfort zone and come and check this out,” Arcand said. “There are many settlers out there who are carrying community and family secrets because their ancestors worked in these institutions and we don’t want them carrying the shame like we have because we didn’t understand blameless shame.”
The artists who created the paintings in The Child Taken exhibit were inspired by stories from survivors of residential schools, including Arcand’s own accounts, and the results provide an accessible way for people to learn about what happened during those times and places in Canada’s history.
Thomas feels good about the project and said they are trying to get the New Child painting by Kayla Prive a permanent spot on the wall in the Saskatoon airport once current renovations are finished. He said people are starting to talk and they’re getting a lot requests for the exhibit.
“What we’d like to see is the display in different parts of Saskatchewan. So hopefully we can contribute to the curriculum and education of residential schools to more people, not only around the world, but particularly in our backyard in Saskatchewan where there’s a real need to get the full history and understand why and where First Nations people come from and how we came to where we’re at now.”
The Child Taken exhibit opened at the LCSC on March 10 and will continue to run until April 25.