A replica of the Witness Blanket goes on display this weekend at the Kelowna Art Gallery

Witness Blanket in Kelowna

Cindy White

It might be a replica of the original, but the impact is still visceral.

A reproduction of the Witness Blanket goes on display at the Kelowna Art Gallery beginning Saturday.

The stunning work by Master Carver Carey Newman is a national monument bearing witness to the truths of residential school Survivors.

Newman travelled 200,000 kilometres to gather the stories and artifacts, even including items contributed by his own family.

“(he visited) over 77 communities and about 800 artifacts. They also come to life on a great app that’s available with the exhibition. And yes, he did visit residential schools and worked with the communities to bring all of this together,” explained Nataley Nagy, Executive Director, Kelowna Art Gallery.

The gallery has been planning since 2014 to bring the Witness Blanket to Kelowna.

“So, Carey designed this, started this thinking, in 2009 after the Truth and Reconciliation Report by Senator (Murray) Sinclair was released. Then in 2013 and 2014 gathered all of the objects around the country.

I was always very fascinated by his work as a carver, but then with his dad being a residential school Survivor, working through all of the different emotions that you must experience, especially when all the objects were coming in,” said Nagy.

To help you understand the artifacts, you can download the Witness Blanket app, which explains what each of the pieces means and where it came from.

The reproduction will be on display at the Kelowna Art Gallery until April 10 and it’s free of charge for the public to view. The original is currently preserved in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

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