Last week I watched workers on tall ladders hang these huge banners in Eckhardt Hall, the two storey front lobby at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The art piece they were installing is a work called We Are Sorry and was created by Cathy Busby. She has chosen excerpts from 2008 speeches by both Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper and Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd. The purpose of both speeches was to apologize for the tragedy created by the residential school system in their respective countries. Busby transferred the two prime ministers’ remarks onto 20′ x 45′ vinyl panels.
Originally presented at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010 at the invitation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada the artwork has also been displayed in other Canadian and Australian cities.
Halifax artist Cathy Busby who has a PhD in communications and an MA in media from Concordia University in Montreal says about her work, “These apologies for the stolen generations in Australia and the Indian residential schools systems in Canada were of major significance when they were delivered, and yet each was a relatively fleeting moment. We are Sorry gives them a renewed and sustained presence highlighting the shared histories of these two British colonies.”
It is perhaps fitting that Busby’s banners are being displayed again just as the Winnipeg Art Gallery prepares to open a new exhibit called Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. on May 10, 2014.
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