Christi Belcourt’s design will commemorate Residential Schools

Metis_Artist_windows_parliamentPart of Christi Belcourt’s design that will become a stained glassed window in the
Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

(June 11, 2012) It was announced today that Ontario Métis artist Christi Belcourt’s design will be used to create stained glass windows for Parliament Hill. The windows will commemorate the lives of Aboriginal people who experienced the Indian Residential Schools System.

The installation of the windows on Parliament Hill is part of the Government of Canada’s 2008 apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools. In 2011, the Canadian government announced as a gesture of reconciliation that the legacy of Indian Residential Schools would be commemorated through a permanent installation of stained glass artwork in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. Following the announcement, a five member selection committee of Aboriginal art experts was established to oversee the artist selection process. This group invited a number of Canadian Aboriginal artists to submit designs but ultimately selected the design submitted by Christi Belcourt, the daughter of MNO founding President Tony Belcourt.

“This design depicts healing and reconciliation between Aboriginal people and all Canadians,” explained selection committee Chair Stephen Inglis in a Government of Canada news release. “The design, entitled “Giniigaaniimenaaning”, which means ‘Looking Ahead’, tells a story of Aboriginal peoples, cultures and languages through dark times and reflects the healing and resiliency of Aboriginal traditions and languages. This is a story that is an important part of Canadian history, one which needs to be better known.”

“We cannot forget that for over 100 years Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families to attend residential schools. The effects of the residential schools era are still felt deeply within our communities; however, our Peoples are healing and regaining our strength,” said Christi Belcourt, in the same release. “This stained glass window is important as it commemorates a significant point in history when in 2008 the Prime Minister of Canada apologized to the Aboriginal Peoples, and it will forever serve as a reminder to all of Canada and future generations.”

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski stated: “Being selected for this historic honour is a testament to Christi’s talent and her vision. It is fitting that a Métis artist be selected as many of our people suffered in residential schools, a fact that is not as widely known and recognized as it should be. Christi is a wonderful role model for Métis youth. She shows us all what Métis people can accomplish.”

Click here to view more images of Christi Belcourt’s design along with her description of the work.