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Truth and Reconciliation Commission: how the arts shape our view of history

In light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's findings, how is art used as a tool to reflect on - and shape - our understanding of history?
Left to right: artist, playwright and director Tara Beagan; TIFF Bell Lightbox's director of film programmes Jesse Wente, and A Tribe Called Red's Ian Campeau on how the arts can reflect upon, and shape, our view of history. (Tara Beagan/Nadya Kwandibens/Trevor Hagan for Reuters)
Listen18:28

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report yesterday here in Canada.

​"Words are not enough," Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the commission said, to address the "cultural genocide" of residential schools on aboriginal communities.

Joining Shad to talk about the TRC's findings are three leaders in the Aboriginal arts community, through the lens of culture:

  • Jesse Wente is a culture commentator and Director of Film Programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. 
  • Tara Beagan is a playwright, performer, artist and director 
  • Musician Ian Campeau, also known as DJ NDN from A Tribe Called Red. 

Our panelists share their reactions to the the TRC's findings released this week, and discuss the arts' important role in educating and sharing stories that not everyone may have encountered through traditional educators. 

"For the majority of indigenous artists, we are politicised by our very existence. Residential schools were meant to wipe us out," says Wente, who also pointed out that the history of residential schools has been touched upon very rarely in film.

"The fact that we exist, persist, and continue to make indigenous art is in itself a political act, and in a way a resistance against the legacy of residential schools."

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