Akwesasne art piece remembers children who didn’t make it home

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Akwesasne art piece remembers children who didn’t make it home
The art piece made of beaded moccasin vamps (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall Public Library will be showcasing a piece of Indigenous art created by dozens of artists.

The piece is a wheel covered in different beaded moccasin vamps. Moccasin vamps are made for children, and the piece is dedicated to the memory of the thousands of graves of children discovered at Indian Residential Schools this past summer.

The art piece was presented to Cornwall City Council at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 24 by Iakonikonriiosta, Karrie Benedict, and Maie Thomas of the Native North American Travelling College (NNATC).

“Because this project was started by the findings at Kamloops, BC, each vamp is meant to represent the children who didn’t make it home from residential schools,” said Thomas. “While there are 221 vamps on our display, there’s been over 6,000 children’s remains found so far. But there’s still a lot of residential school grounds that haven’t been searched so that number will continue to rise. Also, the designs on each vamp represent different things. A lot of artist chose to use the color orange to represent Orange Shirt Day, others choose a lot of Kanien’kehaka symbolism. That part was really at the discretion of the artists.”

Benedict, who was a part of the design and production of the project said that as a mother herself, she could not imagine her kids not coming home from school.

“I have five children from ages two-to-15 and I can’t fathom or imagine them not coming home to me after school,” said Benedict, who explained that her own biological grandparents were residential school survivors.

The art piece will be on display at the Cornwall Public Library until the end of the day on Friday, Oct. 29.

“This art work will help our residents emotionally understand what took place,” said Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant.

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