The recent landmark report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada on the abuses at residential schools states that art has the extraordinary ability to heal. The National Arts Centre hosted a timely panel discussion on art in the context of reconciliation moderated by Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Panelists included Rachael Maza, acclaimed Australian theatre director of Jack Charles V The Crown (presented at the NAC), Joseph Boyden, author of the award-winning novels Three Day Road, Through Black Spruce and The Orenda, and John Estacio, JUNO award- nominated composer of I Lost My Talk, a new work inspired by a poem by Mi’kmaw elder Rita Joe.
Each artist spoke from their own experience about how art can facilitate discussion and learning in the context of reconciliation. "This is no longer a First Nations story, this is a Canadian story," John Estacio said.
One of the most powerful moments of the evening came during the Q & A, when an elder and residential school survivor addressed the room. She said that although she was sent away from her family at the age of eight,she continues to build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.