September 21, 4:30 – 7:00 PM, Virtual Event: “Picking up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket” Film Screening and conversation with Kwagiulth master carver Carey Newman and his sisters Marion and Ellen

Inspired to know more about his father’s time at residential school, Kwagiulth master carver and artist Carey Newman created the Witness Blanket – a wall-sized monument that commemorates the experiences of residential Survivors and their families, as well as the children who didn’t make it home. The Witness Blanket is constructed from hundreds of everyday items collected from residential schools, churches, government buildings and cultural structures across Canada. Each object has a story to tell, each Survivor has something to say. Narrated by the artist, this 90-minute film weaves together those stories with Carey’s personal journey, examining how art can open our hearts to the pain of truth and the beauty of resiliency.

The film screening will be preceded by a Musqueam welcome and opening remarks by Chief Dr. Robert Joseph and IRSHDC Academic Director Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe). Following the film, a live Q&A with Carey and his sisters Ellen and Marion will be moderated by Dr. Turpel-Lafond. Audience members will be invited to submit questions via chat.

This event is part of the UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre’s Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation programming. It is presented in partnership with UBCO Indigenous Programs & Services, the First Nations House of Learning, UBC Learning Circle and the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health. It is free and open to UBC students, staff and faculty at both campuses as well as to wider community members, however, registration is required.

Watch the Trailer

About the Speakers:

Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme)

Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme) is a multi-disciplinary artist and master carver. Through his father he is Kwakwak’awakw from the Kukwekum, Giiksam, and WaWalaby’ie clans of Fort Rupert, and Coast Salish from Cheam of the Sto:lo Nation along the upper Fraser Valley. Through his mother he is English, Irish, and Scottish. In his artistic practice he strives highlight either Indigenous, social, or environmental issues.  He is also interested in engaging with community and incorporating socially innovative practice into his artistic process. Carey’s most recent major work, the Witness Blanket, made of items collected from Residential Schools, Government Buildings and Churches across Canada, deals with the subject of Reconciliation.

In 2008, Carey was selected as the master carver of the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, a journey that saw him travel the province of BC sharing the carving experience of carving a 20’ totem with over 11,000 people. In 2009, Carey was selected from a national call to artists by VANOC and won the right to create a large installation. His piece entitled “Dancing Wind”, featured during the 2010 Olympic Games, consisted of 4 large panels, made from stainless steel, cedar and glass. He has done work for corporations, government agencies and museums around the world. Recently appointed as the Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria, Carey is continually grateful for the opportunity to explore new ideas.

Carey was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2017 and was named to the Order of British Columbia in 2018.

Marion Newman

Mezzo-soprano Marion Newman (she/her) is Kwagiulth and Stó:lō with English, Irish and Scottish heritage. She has been acclaimed for her roles in BarberCarmen and Missing and was nominated for a Dora Award in Shanawdithit. In addition to her operatic career Marion is sought after as speaker, teacher, facilitator, advisor and dramaturge for institutions and arts organizations across Canada. She is a Co-Founder of Amplified Opera. Upcoming appearances include Migrations in her debut with the Welsh National Opera. Marion’s newest role is host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, a national radio show on CBC Music.

Ellen Newman

Ellen Newman’s traditional name is Kugwi’ sila’ ogwa. She is Kwagiulth, Haida, Salish and English, Irish, Scottish and Swedish in heritage. Ellen has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University and has spent the majority of her career in the non-profit sector. She is currently a Research and Project Analyst with the Province of British Columbia. Ellen is also a proud auntie to Adelyn. 

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph is a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation. One of the last speakers of the Kwakwaka’wakw language, he has worked as a language instructor at the University of British Columbia. He is also an internationally recognized author, curator, and speaker. A Survivor of residential school, he speaks widely about his experiences and of reconciliation. He is the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council. He is an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, past Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, Chairman of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace, and Reconciliation and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. Among his many awards and honours, Chief Joseph is the recipient of the Wallenberg Sugihara Civil Courage Award, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Order of British Columbia, and Order of Canada.  

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe)

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) is the Academic Director of the Centre. She is a Canadian lawyer, former judge, legislative advocate for children’s rights and a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law. She holds a law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University, a master’s degree in international law from the University of Cambridge, and a doctorate of law from Harvard Law School. As a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Aki-Kwe was the first Treaty Indian to be named to the judicial bench in Saskatchewan. She has served as a Representative for Children and Youth for BC, and continues to draft legislation, provide legal advice and speak to all levels of government.


The Witness Blanket website

Watch “Picking up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket” on Vimeo