Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket
Sea to Sky | BC Spotlight |
In an attempt to honour the more than 150,000 victims of the Canadian residential-school system, including his own father, artist Carey Newman embarks on a long journey to create the Witness Blanket. This large-scale art installation, inspired by the woven blanket’s symbolization of protection in Indigenous cultures, features hundreds of artifacts gathered from former residential school sites, churches, government buildings and other affiliated structures. The objects—which include shoes, doorknobs, photographs and pieces of brick and wood—may look inconsequential on their own, but collectively they pay tribute to the stories of loss, strength, resistance and healing that belong to residential-school survivors and their loved ones.
Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket follows Newman and his team as they travel across Canada to meet survivors and collect these pieces of history. Through these survivors’ testimonies, the documentary offers a crucial account of the atrocities committed in government-funded, church-run schools—and the lasting effects those acts have had on Indigenous communities. Co-directed by Cody Graham and Newman himself, Picking Up the Pieces is a reflection on bearing witness, and it stands as a reminder that survivors’ testimonies are a necessity in the process of truth and healing.
Preceded By: In the Valley of Wild HorsesDirector: Trevor Mack, Asia Youngman / BC, 2018, 23 min. / Rated - G
Every summer, the community of Xeni Gwet’in travels 200 km by horse and wagon from their home in Nemiah Valley to the famous Williams Lake stampede to honour a 94-year tradition of inclusion, trade and relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.