An artistic monument honouring Splatsin residential school survivors will be led by Indigenous artist Tania Willard.
Splatsin’s Residential School Survivors’ Planning Group put out a national call for artists to create the monument recognizing and celebrating survivors, and Willard has been selected to lead the project.
Willard has Secwépemc and settler roots, reads a Splatsin media release. Her research intersects with land-based art practices and her work reinforces a connection to land, culture and family. She has worked on collaborative projects before, through her BUSH Gallery in Neskonlith, Secwepemcúl’ecw, and uses her vision of centering art as an Indigenous resurgent act, reads the release. Her work also supports language revitalization in Secwépemc communities.
“My keye7e (grandmother), Ethel Jones, was from Splatsin, she supported my graduation in high school and was proud of that, I hope she would be just as proud today. I believe through creative practices we can find our strength and plant the seeds for our future Secwépemc communities to be strong, to know themselves, their language and culture and our land,” said Willard.
Having curated exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the Kamloops Art Gallery, the Anchorage Museum in Alaska and at galleries in Santa Fe and a number of other places, Willard will lend her extensive experience to Splatsin’s monument.
She is the recipient of art awards like the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art, the VIVA award from the Shadbolt Foundation and was named a Forge Project Fellow for land-based, community-engaged artistic practices in 2022, reads the release.
Fundraising for the Splatsin monument began in 2021, when the community identified the desire for a memorial dedicated to respecting and remembering survivors. A planning group began meeting in May 2022 and in September of last year, the first Survivors’ Gathering was held. Several possible themes and locations have been proposed.
Another meeting will be held with the survivors and Willard to confirm the monument’s plan.
“When our young people are making a mark out in the larger world, it is important that part of their cornerstone is anchored at home,” said Splatsin Elder and survivor Rosalind William.
Donations to the project can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.