Gallery helps remember lost Indigenous women, children

The Varley Art Gallery will host a grassroots art installation designed to honour and serve as a lasting remembrance of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and children who have been murdered or gone missing.

The Canadian Library (TCL) is a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous creators and non-profit organizations that aims to remind Canadians that every missing and murdered Indigenous woman and child has a story.

TCL’s mission is to individually respect and honour the thousands of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls (MMIWG) and children. The names of lives lost, printed in gold letters, will be placed on the spines of more than 8,000 hardcover books that have been individually hand wrapped in original, Indigenous-designed fabrics and arranged on bookshelves.  

“My vision for The Canadian Library was to help start important conversations and educate each other about the true history of Canada, with a living art installation that every Canadian could participate in,” says team lead Shanta Sundarason. “Only with the truth being shared can true reconciliation happen.”

TCL will make its formal public debut at an event hosted by its originators, The Giving Tree Unionville, a Unionville-based non-profit, on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3pm at the Varley Art Gallery at 216 Main St., Unionville. The installation will run through the remainder of the year.

In addition to Sundarsason, presenters include Linda Manyguns, associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alta.; Mim Harder, a grandmother and educator of Canada’s ‘true history;’ Mary Kelly, a survivor of Canada’s residential school system; and Sandra Moore, Indigenous artist and owner/operator of Creators Gifts in Hiawatha First Nation.

In addition to viewing the installation in their communities, the public can contribute to the non-profit project through donations or purchases that cover programming and fabric costs, donating hardcover books to be wrapped and volunteering.

Installations are initially planned at sites that include the Varley Art Gallery, King City Museum, Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, Richmond Hill Public Library, Oak Valley Health (previously Markham Stouffville Hospital) and IKEA stores across the country. Dozens more installations are planned across Canada. A full and evolving list and dates, as well as donation opportunities, is available at thecanadianlibrary.ca.

Photo courtesy of The Canadian Library.

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