Artist inspired by indigenous issues, presents gift to community

SIX NATIONS – An Ontario artist presented three works of art to the community of Six Nations this week as an emblem of support and awareness to the traumas of residential schools and the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

Cheryl Gardiner is an artist who paints barn quilts. She said when she started hearing stories in the news about the atrocities experienced by both children in residential schools and women in Canada she felt urged to do something.

“With all the awareness since the national inquiry — I didn’t know anything about this,” said Gardiner. “I was so disgusted after I learned about the children and what happened at residential schools.”

Gardiner said that was when she pressed in to learn more about the issues facing indigenous people in Canada and took an online course through Cape Breton University.

“The horror stories of people living with the memories from those schools — I’m horrified,” said Gardiner.

The artist then took her learning another step further by creating three pieces of art in honour of Six Nations survivors of the 60s scoop and the women and families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Three painted barn quilts were presented to Six Nations Elected Council Chief Ava Hill and Six Nations Tourism Manager Connie Jamieson.

Gardiner said although the issues at hand seem insurmountable, making the art and gifting it to Six Nations was something of substance she felt she could do to help. “It’s my way of starting to make it right. I’m aware of all of this and now I’m constantly aware of it. I think we should be teaching it in schools, all the history of what happened to indigenous people in Canada.”

Elected Chief Ava Hill said she felt reassured that the work being done to raise awareness to these issues is making an impact. “It’s really refreshing for us to know that with all the work being done that the message is getting out there,” said Hill.

Six Nations Tourism Manager Connie Jamieson thanked Gardiner for learning more about the issues of residential schools and missing and murdered indigenous women. Jamieson said, “This is what we want. We want people to take the initiative and get educated themselves.”

The art will be on display at the Woodland Cultural Centre’s First Nations Art 2016 opening this Friday.

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