Truthful Engagement: Making the Witness Blanket, an Ongoing Process of Reconciliation
This report from the field summarizes a conversation between Carey Newman and guest editor, Catherine Etmanski, which took place on January 12, 2018. The conversation focused on Carey’s work engaging people across Canada in a project titled The Witness Blanket. The Witness Blanket is a national monument of the Indian Residential School Era made of items collected from residential schools, from churches, government buildings, and traditional structures from across Canada. In this report, Carey provides insight into the process of collecting artefacts from communities across Canada. Although not all pieces he received were aesthetically pleasing—and neither were the stories associated with them—through this process, he learned the importance of including all voices and stories. With time and reflection, he learned the power of collective truth. While making the Witness Blanket, some items challenged his creativity and tested his commitment to include something from every contributor, but he felt a responsibility to find a place for them all. He also brings focus to traditional perspectives or ways of being that helped guide him through the process of building and leading a team through the expansive community engagement process and the eventual creation of a monument, national tour, and documentary film.
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