What the witness blanket says to me

Artifact Review

The first thing I notice when I look at the witness blanket is the large door that is in the middle of the display. Doors are used as supports when you are building a house; they assist in holding up the roofs and beams. The door in the display has the same effect, it holds the display together; not only does it connect the two sides but it sets the whole frame. If there is a door, than it must have opened to a room; was this a door to a bedroom, a bathroom, a main door, a classroom? In the image, the website provides the door being closed, on the side that is shown there is a painting that shows what appears to be a dark forest but it is not this that makes the door so interesting. It is the other side that adds mystery, the painting on the other side has two parts, the first is a young child sleeping; that leads to the conclusion it was a bedroom. The second part of the painting is what makes the artifact uncomfortable, above the sleeping child there is a male figure watching. A bedroom is supposed to be a place where you can be yourself, be safe and protected. Behind a closed door, a child should feel comfortable. It is hard to believe that the children that slept behind this door felt safe or protected. The thought that even when they were sleeping in a state of vulnerability, someone was watching them is a terrifying thought. This door could have been the separation between others and the abused. This door could have been witness to abuse, neglect, tears, prayers and other untold tragedies that were experienced by innocent aboriginal children. A bedroom door is meant to close a person off from the real world so they can escape from their personal problems, it is not meant to hold a child in so that their personal problems can find them when it is convenient.

The second artifact that caught my attention was the drum. The point of residential schools was to kill the Indian inside the man, to remove their heritage, language and beliefs. The drum was and still is a large part of aboriginal heritage; it is shocking that such a valuable piece of aboriginal heritage was found within residential schools. Traditional languages, practices and beliefs were beaten out of innocent children, yet a drum was left for the aboriginals. It does not make sense; was this drum there as a reminder of how their heritage was bad, was it snuck in by a young child and hidden away as a remind of who they are? On the other hand, did those running the school not realise the value of the drum to aboriginal heritage, did they not care, or was it not an artifact of a residential school, but something that was added as a connection piece between the victims and the survivors? It is easier to think of the drum being added as a connection piece because the thought that such an important piece of aboriginal traditions was considered unimportant is more frustrating than the thought that they allowed a drum into the school as a reminder of the heritage that they were being removed from by force.  The fact that the drum is present in the witness blanket adds more meaning to the situation than the other pieces, because it connects to their heritage.

The witness blanket as a whole has lots of meaning; it provides evidence of the struggles that the survivors went through and the slow healing process that they are still going through. The door shows that past, it was witness to events that took place behind the door. The drum provides the opposite effects by having the connection to both traditional beliefs and future generations. Two things that have little to do with each other, except that they are in the same display, yet they both important to the whole picture, the door is the support and the drum connects the past to the present.   back of door front of door

This is what the door looks like:

This is the link to finding the drum


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