Transcript: Madeleine Dion Stout – Member of the Selection Committee
Greg Rickford: In order to select the artwork that was translated in this stained glass, a selection committee comprised of former residential students, survivors of Indian residential schools, and aboriginal art experts was formed. The committee was chaired by Dr. Stephen Inglis, the executive director of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute and an adjunct professor of art history at Carleton University. The other members were Dr. Douglas Cardinal, a Métis, former student and world renowned architect, Dr. Heather Igloliorte, an Inuk art historian and curator of several important exhibitions including the legacy of Hope Foundation's traveling exhibit We Were so Far Away, Dr. George McDonald, the former president of the Museum of Civilization and Miss Madeleine DionStout, a First Nations woman and Indian residential school survivor.
The selection committee sought artwork that, among other things, honoured the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children that attended Indian residential schools and depicted the concept of reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. The minister said the committee unanimously recommended that the artwork submitted by Métis artist Christi Belcourt be chosen as the design for the stained glass window. And we are pleased that some members of the selection committee will be joining us today. I would like to invite Miss Madeleine Dion Stout to say a few words on the committee's behalf.
Madeleine Dion Stout: (In native language). Honoured peoples of this territory, honourable members, distinguished guests, hello everyone. Christi Belcourt is a Métis visual artist who lives and paints life as a ceremony. The only way to introduce Christi is to embed her creative genius into Giniigaaniimenaaning a stained glass window in front of you and behind me. It means to look far ahead, and to look into Christi's creative genius, we need to look at it and her in four directions.
Christi and her artwork are manifest in the east (native language) where grandfather, the sun, rises. It is here where creatures comfort. Little ones cradled in rightful arms, old ones rock, starlit heavens and voices chant the strings of transformative failures, that is (native language). This means good turns from changing fortunes, the way residential school legacy was and is. Like Christi, her artwork reaches rarefied heights in the south (native language), where grandfather, the sun, is at its peak. Both break the day in two and the night by half, just shy of amulets for good medicine. Here peace sounds out its depths. The lodge is blood red and each side is a faithful reflection of the other. Like her artwork, Christi's spirit is traceable in the west, (native language), where grandfather, the sun sets. Here the colours fade, statements cease, hearts break and moments die. Yet this heavy cross yields to the people the aurora borealis and the olive branch. Christi and her artwork find expression in the north, (native language), the homing force of grandfather, the sun.
2008 is the monumental year of the apology. It is to look no more at the residential school legacy, but it is to look to less at it. This stunning permanent installation will impress everyone who passes through these rarefied halls and educate anyone who studies and learns at least three of its original instructions. First, (in native language), giveaways are all enriching. Second, (words in native language), takeaways offer communion again. Third, (in native language), regifting secures and sustains the future.
Her proud parents, Tony Belcourt and Judith Pierce-Martin, were the first to witness – were the first to bear witness to Christi's birth as an artist. Thank you, Christi, for your portrayal of lives lived. Canada thanks you, the world thanks you. Hiy Hiy – Merci Beaucoup.