Cape Dorset art project recognizes Nunavut residential school survivors
Framed work goes on display June 20 at Iqaluit museum
Cape Dorset’s mental health team visited Iqaluit’s Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum June 20 to unveil an art project by students of Sam Pudlat Elementary School that’s devoted to residential school survivors.
Headed by psychiatric nurse Candice Waddell, the health workers introduced Project of Heart as a commemoration to all Nunavummiut residential school survivors.
The framed work of tile, embroidery, cloth and beadwork was jointly created by Sam Pudlat students, Cape Dorset youth mentors, and elders and residential school survivors from 12 Nunavut communities that once had residential schools.
“The elders did a really good job of holding onto traditional culture and this is our way of saying we know you went through this, but you did a really good job of pushing forward and keeping the culture and language alive for your kids,” Waddell said.
The project was a joint effort by the Cape Dorset mental health team and youth participants in the hamlet’s mentorship program.
Waddell and fellow health workers Martha Jaw and Josie Taukie also shared a story book created with elders and residential school survivors, used to teach kids about residential schools.
“It all started with 10 elders from Cape Dorset, and this book is dedicated to them,” Waddell said. The health team hopes to publish the book so other schools can use it.
“We’re in the process of trying to make that work, but it’s not so easy to import Inuktitut syllabics,” Waddell laughed. “We want to open up the lines of communication about what happened in the past, and how it doesn’t have to affect the children’s future.”
Project of Heart is on display at the Iqaluit museum until the end of August. The health team hopes to find a permanent home for the work in Iqaluit or Cape Dorset.