Making Change With Open Eyes
Sometimes you know exactly where to focus your energy. In June 2021, Tara was compelled to create her artwork With Open Eyes in the wake of hearing that the remains of 215 children has been recovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. While her inspiration does not stem from tragedy, the connection was profound. She hopes people connect with this piece as a symbol for hope and a sign for change ahead.
As a non-indigenous person, Tara wanted to find an appropriate way to encourage education and find a meaningful way to support efforts of truth and reconciliation. In partnership with Akasha Arts, she has produced a limited edition of 215 high quality prints, where $60.00 from each sale is donated to Legacy of Hope Foundation; with a total donation goal of $12,900.00.
As a way to help identify this initiative, Tara has changed her logo colour to be orange and to include feathers that are identifiable with the Every Child Matters; a commitment to raise awareness of the residential school experience and hope for a better future.
Full Artist's Statement
This piece entitled With Open Eyes is an expression of the whirlwind of emotions and internal responses I had when it was announced that the remains of 215 children had been discovered in a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School (Note: this number continues to increase as more sites have been uncovered since the writing of this artist statement). I cannot claim ignorance, I knew that they had existed, and that Residential Schools were traumatic and horrific, but this was the first time my heart was really open to listening and understanding.
In the wake of this news, I’ve started to learn more about these schools, and to my dismay, the last one only closed in 1996; in my lifetime. This is not a piece of Canadian history like I had believed. This is part of the present, along with many other injustices and atrocities that continue to be bestowed upon Canada’s indigenous people.
Why a wolf pup? I have loved and admired wildlife for as long as I can remember, particularly wolves and tigers to be exact. I was amazed as a child when I learned that there’s a culture that deeply respects and connects with nature and wildlife. Now, as an adult whose love of wildlife continues and persists as an artistic muse, this is my best means of communicating the sadness, frustration, connection, hope, and admiration for the true resilience of Canada’s native people.
The wolf pup represents the tender youth who were victim to horrific circumstances of the Indian Residential Schools (IRS), its resting head a symbol for the children who did not survive. It simultaneously represents the little understanding the general public has of Canada’s true history and that there is much room to learn and grow. The wolf itself was chosen for my personal connection to the animal, and because it’s a native animal found across Canada; which parallels with native Canadians’ right to the land and the attempts to destroy them through the IRS. The direct gaze of the pup represents the fact that there is no hiding what’s in plain sight, and there is a demand to do better (in person, the eyes of this piece will follow the viewer around the room, emphasizing this). Finally, there is much that people admire about the wolf and its resilience despite deforestation and urban expansion. Similarly, it is unbelievable how much resilience Canada’s indigenous people have despite incredible efforts to destroy or remove them. It’s time for the rest of Canada’s people to acknowledge and take the necessary steps for reconciliation; our native people have shown more patience than they’ve ever needed to.
As a Brampton resident, some of the territories that Brampton Ontario falls under (keeping in mind that there may be more peoples who have history in this area):
Anishinabe (Mississaugas and Ojibway)
Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Mohawk, Cayugan, Oneida, Onondaga, and Tuscarora)
Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (treaty signatories for the area)
Ojibwe word for wolf (grey wolf): Ma’iingan
Encouragement to learn more about the land:
Encouragement to learn more about language and pronunciation:
The creation of the Making Change With Open Eyes Initiative was driven by my wish to take meaningful action to increase awareness about the residential school across the country. I have chosen to create 215 limited edition prints of this piece and donate a large portion of each sale to a charitable organization that emphasizes on education and resources for both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. Each print will be sold for $100.00, and I will donate $60.00 from each print to Legacy of Hope Foundation, with a total goal of donating $12,900.00 in order for them to continue to provide excellent resources, exhibitions, and information about this topic. This initiative would not be possible without the generosity and involvement from Akasha Art Projects Inc, their involvement allowed the highest amount could go to charity.