Year of Reconciliation

Artist :
Location : Vancouver, Canada
Year : 2014
Researcher : Jessica Fiala

From 1828 – 1986, government-sponsored residential schools in Canada forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families in order to assimilate them into mainstream Christian Canadian culture. This was an act of violence not only against the individuals forced to undergo this program, but also against Indigenous cultures as a whole, which experienced a great loss of language and heritage owing to the involuntary removal of its youngest members.

All together, approximately 150,000 children were torn from their families. Abuse was rampant at these schools where children were not allowed to speak the languages of their people, let alone acknowledge their cultures of origin. With the last residential school closing as recently as 1986, the days of cultural abuse not long gone. Programs are in place to help survivors heal, yet due to the widespread impact of more than a century of mistreatment, other initiatives are also needed to help Canada heal as a whole.

More Below


In 2012, an Indigenous-led organization called Reconciliation Canada was founded in British Columbia with the mission to repair and revitalize relationships between all Canadian cultures. The City Council of Vancouver, in partnership with this organization, declared June 21, 2013–June 20, 2014 a Year of Reconciliation. In response, The City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program actively devoted 8 months of their programming in support of this larger project.

The Year of Reconciliation public art series highlighted the significant potential of public art to respond to and reflect upon troubling histories. Using the entire city as an installation site, these public artworks brought the issue of reconciliation to the forefront in a way open to interpretation and reflection. Both personal and public, the series provided space for individual artists to sort through the complexities of Canada’s history of racial injustice, hopefully spurring thought and discussion amongst the greater population.

The Year of Reconciliation public art series devoted existing resources, including transit shelters, downtown video screens, and the Vancouver Public Library, towards enhancing the Reconciliation initiative with an eight-month public exhibition of changing works. For the program, artists from across Canada were invited to propose 2-dimensional artworks related to reconciliation for temporary installation.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency