On now: The Witness Blanket
January 26 to March 10, Main Hall
Inspired by a universal symbol of protection—a woven blanket—the Witness Blanket comprises items collected from residential schools, Survivors, churches, governments, and other cultural sites across Canada.
Each of the 889 objects collected for the Witness Blanket tells a personal and harrowing story of loss, strength, resilience, and pride from Survivors. These items include braids of hair, a Métis sash, a weather-beaten shoe, the door to the infirmary of St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay, and objects from across BC, including photographs of young girls in front of St Paul’s School in North Vancouver.
The effects of the residential schools live on. They can be seen in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, relationships, attitudes, and behaviours. By bearing witness to these stories, you carry their truth forward into a future that takes responsibility for the injustices of the past.
From January 26 to March 10, we’re hosting the touring replica the Witness Blanket in the Main Hall.
About the Artist
Carey Newman, whose traditional name is Hayalthkin’geme, is a multi-disciplinary Indigenous artist, master carver, filmmaker, author and public speaker. Through his father he is Kwakwak’awakw from the Kukwekum, Giiksam, and WaWalaby’ie clans of northern Vancouver Island, and Coast Salish from Cheam of the Sto:lo Nation along the upper Fraser Valley. Through his mother his ancestors are Settlers of English, Irish,and Scottish heritage.
Carey’s art practice highlights Indigenous, social and environmental issues and examines the impacts of colonialism and capitalism. His art harnesses the power of material truth to unearth memory and trigger emotions that drive positive change. He is also interested in engaging with community and incorporating innovative methods derived from traditional teachings and Indigenous worldviews into his process.
Plan your visit
Stop by during regular hours to take a self-guided tour of the Witness Blanket, explore our programs and resources, bear witness, and reflect. Scroll to bottom of page for information on how to request a group visit.
Content warning: the Witness Blanket and its stories address themes of racism and cruelty. If you are a Residential School Survivor or family member in need of support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1.866.925.4419.
The Witness Blanket, an exhibition based on the art of Carey Newman and developed in collaboration with, and circulated by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
Hosting this exhibition is possible thanks to the financial support of
This exhibit is being hosted on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Nation). We recognize and respect them as nations in this territory, as well as their connection to the lands and waters around us since time immemorial.
Request a Group Visit
Anyone is welcome to visit the Witness Blanket during regular Library hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday – Sunday).
If you have a group of 15 or more people interested in visiting, please fill out the Group Visit Request Form below so we can ensure there aren’t multiple groups visiting at the same time.
PLEASE NOTE: Submitting a group booking request is only to ensure that there are no other large groups visiting at the same time. The Library does not provide a tour guide; your visit will be self-guided. Groups should consult the resources on this webpage for more information on preparing for and debriefing their visit.
Group Visit Request Form
We will review your group booking request and send you a confirmation email with your date/time within three business days.
Resources and further learning
Created by the CBC Indigenous Unit, Beyond 94 allows you to track outcomes on the Calls to Action, learn more about the residential school(s) that operated near their communities, and discover concrete examples of how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians can work together. The project is a living resource as new documentaries, residential school survivor stories, ideas and community-based action around reconciliation are added.
The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a First Nations and Indigenous specific crisis line available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free from anywhere in British Columbia.
- Adult/Elder Line: 250-723-4050
- Child/Youth Line: 250-723-2040
- BC Wide Toll Free:1-800-KUU-US17 (1-800-588-8717)
- Métis Crisis Line: 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722)
A short video from award-winning Cree and Lakota author and educator Monique Gray Smith: "I share tips on both talking to kids about Residential Schools, but also how to prepare yourself as the adult to have these conversations. The video is for parents, grandparents, educators...anyone really with children in their lives. Also included are a number of author tips of books to read, podcasts, etc to deepen and continue your learning."
This guide was developed with teachers across Canada as a framework for teaching about residential schools using the Witness Blanket. It includes lessons, activities and approaches designed to help students and teachers build empathy through witnessing and take the next steps on their own pathways of reconciliation.
Yúusnew̓as is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh community-led project to research and document the residential school experiences of our stélmexw (people). Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw is the lead community for the archival and land-based research into the former St. Paul’s Residential School. The site is located on Sḵwx̱wú7mesh territory in North Vancouver and we are working closely with səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Indian Band. Other communities also attended this school while it was open from 1899 until it was shut down in 1959.
Honouring Truth & Reconciliation →
Truth & Reconciliation for Kids & Teens →
The Library recognizes that the arts are a distinguishing characteristic of our community’s identity. To support our community’s creative talents, we offer spaces that showcase local artists in a setting that invites connection and reflection.
Our Art Gallery is a canvas for established and emerging artists who work in an exciting range of styles and media. Come experience this month’s exhibit and discover a new artist, perspective, and source of pleasure. Works are on display on the Main Floor.
In addition to our monthly exhibitions, over the years the Library has acquired a collection of fine art. Selected pieces are on display in the Library.
Call for Artists - Ongoing
WVML invites visual artists to submit work for our 2024 exhibit space. Submissions are open to emerging and professional artists that work across the Lower Mainland. Selected artists will be scheduled for a 6 to 8 week group exhibition of several artists.