Banners were unveiled at Queen Margaret’s School on June 16 commemorating the journey through truth and reconciliation, and a reminder of every child who has been affected by the residential school system.
The “Every Child Matters” project is a joint initiative by students from QMS and the nearby Khowhemun Elementary School, and the banners will adorn the light standards in the 600 and 700 blocks of Government Street in Duncan.
Inspired by the work of Coast Salish artist Maynard Johnny Jr. and guided by Cowichan Tribes Sul’hween (Elders), students from both schools learned first-hand about what influences Maynard’s designs and how they could turn their own ideas into art.
The gathering at QMS on Thursday saw Cowichan Tribes Sul’hween, Maynard Johnny Jr., and other special guests honour the work that went into the creation of the banners and recognize the students’ contributions.
Hayley Picard, director communication and marketing at QMS, said the gathering was an exquisitely powerful ceremony.
“Many guests were moved to tears with the powerful voices, stirring music and beautiful community connections that have been born of this project,” she said.
“There is healing through art and everyone who engaged in the Every Child Matters Banner Project has been positively affected for life. The QMS and Khowhemun Elementary School community can’t wait for our neighbours to look up and see these gorgeous banners along Government Street and experience the truth and reconciliation journey through the eyes of children. These are our future trailblazers.”
Angela Anderson, head of the fine arts department at QMS, said students from both schools worked alongside one another, built relationships, and shared in the experience of connecting heart and mind through their art.
“Maynard Johnny Jr. offered to inspire and inform the students, through words and his art, the impact residential school and the Indian Act has had on him, his family, and his community,” she said.
“He inspired the students to express themselves and their learning through design language. When Elders, teachers, and children can look so bravely at the hard truth of our history and still hold open their hearts, it gives me hope that we can look at the truth and build a path forward, together with na’ tsa’ maht shqwaluwun (one mind, one heart).”