Roxanne Charles
in-progress image for The Strata of Many Truths exhibition
2019

Gathering Grapes
1920
Joe Siah Photographs. Museum of Vancouver Collection, pic.861.001

Roxanne Charles
Truth
2011

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Roxanne Charles
in-progress image for The Strata of Many Truths exhibition
2019

Gathering Grapes
1920
Joe Siah Photographs. Museum of Vancouver Collection, pic.861.001

Roxanne Charles
Truth
2011

Selected

The Strata of Many Truths

Gallery hours

M,Tu,Su: 10 am–5 pm; W: 10 am–5 pm; Th: 10 am–8 pm; F&Sa: 10 am–9 pm
Museum admission: $9.75 (child)–$20.50 (adult)

**Please note: there was an error in the Capture Magazine. There is no public reception for this exhibition.

Semiahmoo artist Roxanne Charles has drawn inspiration from archival photographs of Indigenous children from the St. Mary’s Indian Residential School, in Mission, BC, to create an art installation in conversation with the exhibit There Is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Indian Day Schools at the Museum of Vancouver.

Click to download Roxanne Charles’s artist essay on her artwork (PDF).

At residential schools across Canada, daily academic instruction was limited, because the children’s time and bodies were needed to keep the schools operating. This experience was shared by the children who attended St. Mary’s.

The archival photographs behind Charles’s work show the common experience of children who were separated by gender, had their hair cut, and were forced to wear uniforms. Charles’s installation holds space for these Indigenous children. The photos ostensibly provide objective historical documentation of the schools, but all were taken from the perspective of the adult supervisors and staff who ran them. There Is Truth Here examines the other perspective in the story: that of the Survivors of Indian day and residential schools. Through their artworks, they tell their own stories from their own perspectives.

The children’s drawings and paintings included in the exhibit show ancestors, horse ranching and rodeos, salmon fishing, boats, empty beaches, and loved ones from home. Some of the pictures depict the loneliness, isolation, and abuse experienced at the schools. The Survivors’ art and voices provide a deeper understanding of what life was like for children in residential schools and how art offered them a chance to express their individual creativity. These artworks represent the children’s truth about growing up in these institutions.

As intergenerational residential school Survivors living in the aftermath of the residential school era, we experience a state of being caught between the struggle of our relatives and the legacy of trauma left in the wake of the residential school system. It is a truth that we have inherited and one we will continue to tell through the works of artists like Roxanne Charles and the children of this exhibit. (Text by Lorilee Wastasecoot)

Generously supported by a City of Vancouver Creative City Strategic Grant.

Supported by a London Drugs Printing Grant

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