Riverside Secondary students in AJ Vittie’s 3D Art (Sculpture) 12 class are currently working on an art project called the “River of Reconciliation” in hopes to create a personal reflection on on the historical and current reality of Indigenous Canadians. From April 29 to June 15, 2022, students’ artwork will be presented at Leigh Square Community Arts Village in Port Coquitlam.
In attempts to work towards recognizing the Truth and Reconciliation commission’s calls to action regarding Indigenous people in Canada, 3D Art 12 teacher at Riverside Secondary School, Mx. Vittie, has introduced an artistic project to their class in attempt to work towards one of the school’s goals of reconciliation.
Local Indigenous artist, Kurtis Johnson, was hired to design a 12’ x 7’ digital painting of his interpretation of the Coquitlam River. Each student has been given a section of the painting to design using their personal understanding of reconciliation. Before starting their artwork, students in the class were divided into groups and asked to complete a presentation of different ways that reconciliation can be shown based off a chosen Call to Action.“One of my goals was to break down the Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and empower students to find something that they could do towards reconciliation,” said Vittie.
They also claimed that the students’ artwork should include a form of imagery that relates to their personal understanding of reconciliation. The overall collaborative project has several layers to it and aims to reflect on the history of the Indigenous land on which Riverside resides on through a connected yet independent piece of work.
Vittie acknowledges that the reconciliation process is complex and that learning about it should be interesting and enjoyable, not just about trauma and blame. “We have this past that has all this muddiness and yuckiness to it, and there can be a lot of guilt that comes with talking about it, and as a young person who has nothing to do with the history, it is important that we don’t need to feel guilty about the history of Canada,” said Vittie. They continue to say, “However, if you are living in Canada right now you have a responsibility to make a change moving forward,”.
Lorraine Leyva, a student participating reflected on the process. “This project has helped me understand reconciliation in a different perspective.” She continued to express how illustrating her personal comprehension of Reconciliation through creativity has assisted her in gaining insight on the various ways she can show it as an individual. Vittie strives to educate students throughout this process by depicting social and personal intentions about Reconciliation through this imagery that is made on the land, of the land, and about the land that we reside on.