September 28, 2023
OTTAWA, Ontario—On September 29, 2023, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, will host Learning and Healing Through Art, a special intergenerational discussion with a residential school Survivor, an artist and local youth on the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR).
The discussion, which begins at 10:00 a.m., will include Canadian artist Meryl McMaster, of nêhiyaw (Plains Cree, from Red Pheasant Cree Nation), British and Dutch ancestry, whose art tells Indigenous stories and helps bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Residential school Survivor Elder Solomon Wawatie, and Rachelle Metatawabin, of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, will share their experiences to educate others. The speakers will discuss the importance of learning about residential schools, what reconciliation means, and how art can inspire reflection on important national issues.
During a Q&A portion, youth from three Ottawa-area high schools will have a chance to deepen their understanding of Canada’s history. Students and teachers will then be joined by the Governor General and the artist to take part in a hands-on art and history activity inspired by McMaster’s photographic triptych, Murmur.
A day to educate and reflect
On September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the children who never returned home and the Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Since the beginning of her mandate, the Governor General has asked Canadians to learn about Indigenous peoples and to build a new relationship through reconciliation, based on understanding and respect.
Notes for media
- Designed to encourage reflection and deepen understanding of reconciliation, this special intergenerational event reflects the NDTR’s 2023 theme of education.
- Photos of the artwork and event, taken by the Governor General’s official photographer, will be made available upon request.
- The Governor General will release a statement about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2023. Media interested in receiving the statement in advance (under embargo) are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To guarantee access to the event, we ask that media please confirm in advance with the Rideau Hall Press Office at email@example.com.
- Media are asked to arrive at the Princess Anne Entrance no later than 9:30 a.m. on the day of the event.
- Elder Solomon Wawatie, of the Anishinaabe Traditional Council of Elders, learned the history of the Anishnabek from his elders. After suffering seven years of abuse in a residential school, Solomon returned to his community to reconnect with his roots. He learned traditional practices, such as tanning leather, making moccasins, and how to hunt, fish and trap. As a storyteller, Solomon actively keeps the traditions, culture and language of his ancestors alive.
- Artist Meryl McMaster is of nêhiyaw (Plains Cree, from Red Pheasant Cree Nation), British and Dutch ancestry, and is a member of the Siksika First Nation. She is well known for her large-format self-portraits that feature themes of self through land, lineage, history and culture.
- Rachelle Metatawabin, a descendant of Fort Albany First Nation, of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, speaks from personal experience of the intergenerational impacts of family trauma.
Murmur (2013), Ink jet print on paper
Meryl McMaster (Ottawa, ON, 1988)
Loan from the Indigenous Art Centre, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
- Murmur was inspired by the natural phenomenon of a murmuration, a mass of starlings that fly together as one. In this triptych, the artist is surrounded by thousands of paper ‘starlings’ flying around her, cut from North American history books. This art piece is meant to demonstrate the reclaiming of history and our discontent with it.
- Artist Meryl McMaster’s official website
- Indigenous art at Rideau Hall
- The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Canadian Heritage on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Speech by the Governor General on the Residential School Monument Location Announcement
- The Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition
Rideau Hall Press Office