This painting has been donated to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I have been invited to present it to the attendants at the conference. The painting will travel with the Special Box symbolizing the strength and resilience of Residential school survivors.
Many times during the past few years, in very quiet moments, I have been taken aside and told sad, heartbreaking, revolting, unjust stories related to the years spent in residential schools. As a white person, I have felt helpless and ashamed, deeply concerned for my confidante and sometimes taken it personally. As an artist, there are many ways to express these emotions in a constructive way. A few paintings express my feelings on the subject. One of them is called: « Holding Spirit »
I was taking pictures in a small village. This little girl who I met was afraid, as if she thought I was going to harm her dog. I sat with her and we started talking, then she took me to her grandmother’s place. Her grandmother was cooking. We sat in the sun talking about making bread in different manners. When I came home to look at my pictures and decided to paint what I felt that day, I realized that her fear, protecting her fragile friend, holding him real close was not much different than how Native people feel about their culture, their Spirit. The harm is done, there is still a lot of distrust, (injustice and racism), but they are so resilient and willing to make it better with amazing courage despite disease, addictions, poverty and regardless of the great tragedies that afflicted generations of native families. As a frequent traveler and friend to the native communities of James Bay, I am always amazed to witness so much generosity and genuine hospitality.