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Residential school legacy commemorated with stained glass window

Thursday November 29, 2012
Submitted photo
Metis artist Christi Belcourt designed the stained glass window commemorating the residential school legagy on Parliament’s Centre Block.

A stained glass window commemorating the legacy of Indian residential schools has been permanently installed in the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

“In 2008, on behalf all Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a formal apology to former students of Indian residential schools, their families and communities that acknowledged the impacts of those schools,” said Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Minister John Duncan. “Today we continue on the path of reconciliation as we dedicate this new stained glass window. The window is a visible reminder of the legacy of Indian Residential Schools; it is also a window to a future founded on reconciliation and respect.”

Designed by Métis artist Christi Belcourt and created in collaboration with Vision Art Glass Studio, the stained glass window was dedicated on Nov. 26 after the design was initially unveiled on June 11, the fourth anniversary of Harper’s apology.

Belcourt said the Giniigaaniimenaaning (Looking Ahead) design tells a story about Aboriginal people: from when ceremonies, languages, and cultural knowledge were intact; through the darkness of the residential school era; to an awakening sounded by a drum; an apology that spoke to the heart; hope for reconciliation; transformation and healing through dance, ceremony, language; and resilience into the present day.

A committee of Aboriginal art experts and residential school students selected Belcourt’s work for the installation.

Belcourt’s work can be found within the public collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Indian and Inuit Art Collection, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Museum of Nature.

The stained glass window is located directly above the Members’ entrance to the Centre Block.

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