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Witness Blanket goes digital to share truths and memories of residential school Survivors

·7 min read
TELUS Communications Inc
TELUS Communications Inc

Supported by a $1 million commitment from TELUS in partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Indigenous artist Carey Newman, witnessblanket.ca invite users to listen, learn and explore the stories behind the dynamic artwork

Digital Witness Blanket

Witness Blanket goes digital to share truths and memories of residential school Survivors
Witness Blanket goes digital to share truths and memories of residential school Survivors

VANCOUVER, XʷMƏΘKʷƏY̓ƏM (Musqueam), SḴWX̱WÚ7MESH (Squamish), and SƏLILWƏTAɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories, Sept. 19, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), Indigenous artist Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme), and TELUS celebrated the launch of a new online platform which invites all Canadians to bear witness to the experiences of residential school Survivors.

Witnessblanket.ca shares stories from the Witness Blanket, a powerful work of art made from over 800 items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and other important cultural sites across Canada. The artwork was created by master carver and Indigenous artist, Carey Newman, as a national monument to recognize the atrocities of the residential school era, honour the children, Survivors, and symbolize ongoing reconciliation.

“In the oral tradition of my ancestors, a witness has an important role to make sure things are not forgotten. A witness watches, listens, and then shares with others,” said Carey Newman. “As we launch this new platform today, I invite everyone to explore these stories, become witnesses to the voices and memories of Survivors and share their truths in your communities.”

Users can explore 10 original stories that weave together video testimony from Survivors with information about a piece of the artwork. These stories share the significance of items that carry a deep personal and cultural connection to the residential school era and its legacy such as braided hair, a mush hole bowl, Inuvik stone, and letters. Users can also explore the full artwork, including individual pieces, where they were located and who contributed them. Digitizing the Witness Blanket has made it accessible to audiences around the world. Through witnessblanket.ca, thousands more each year will recognize the atrocities of the era, remember the children who didn’t return home, and honour Survivors.

The digital Witness Blanket project was created through a partnership between Newman, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Animikii Indigenous Technology, Media One Inc., and TELUS. It was made possible by a $1 million dollar commitment from TELUS and the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, and an additional $100,000 from the Entwistle Family Foundation. Its development was guided by a Survivors Circle brought together through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). The launch of witnessblanket.ca represents the first phase of this partnership. Moving forward, it will leverage TELUS’ technological expertise to create augmented reality, virtual reality led by Camosun Innovates, and projection mapping experiences that will further expand the reach of the Witness Blanket.

“The TELUS team is honoured to partner with master carver, Carey Newman, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to digitize and promote the Witness Blanket,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO, TELUS. “Our $1 million commitment provides an important opportunity to leverage the power of technology to share stories and truths about the children who were lost, the Survivors who endured and the generations of families that have been forever changed by residential schools. It is our hope that the online platform of the Witness Blanket has a lasting and powerful impression on every person within Canada and well beyond, reflecting our collective commitment to truth telling.”

A core feature of the platform is a new resource guide for teachers, created in consultation with an advisory group of teachers across Canada. The guide includes foundational teaching strategies, guidance on how to welcome Elders, Survivors and Indigenous community members into the classroom, and detailed lesson plans for teaching about residential schools to students of all ages.

In addition to digitizing the Witness Blanket, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has launched an initiative by the Vancouver Public Library to create stations in two branches – including a children’s branch at the Central Library – where visitors can explore the Witness Blanket digitally.

“We appreciate TELUS joining us on this journey and bringing their incredible support. We also have to thank Carey Newman for his vision and the NCTR Survivors Circle who gave so much of themselves to ensure the stories on witnessblanket.ca recognize the harms of the past but also leave us with hope for the future,” said Isha Khan, Chief Executive Officer, CMHR. “Bearing witness to Survivors and their stories is our responsibility as Canadians. If we carry their truths with us, we cannot help but walk the path of truth and reconciliation together.”

Central to TELUS’ Reconciliation Commitment, TELUS is leveraging their world-leading technology to support the diverse needs of Indigenous Peoples, build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses, help to grow the economy and enable prosperity for Indigenous Peoples. In 2021, TELUS committed $8 million to stand in solidarity with Survivors and their families by supporting Indigenous-led entrepreneurs, projects and initiatives. This commitment includes a $1 million gift to digitize, promote and distribute the Witness Blanket as well as investments from the TELUS Pollinator Fund in Indigenous-led businesses, and grants from the TELUS Community Boards and TELUS Friendly Future Foundation.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $17 billion in annual revenue and 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. Our social purpose is to leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. The numerous, sustained accolades TELUS has earned over the years from independent, industry-leading network insight firms showcase the strength and speed of TELUS’ global-leading networks, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better.

Operating in 28 countries around the world, TELUS International (TSX and NYSE: TIXT) is a leading digital customer experience innovator that designs, builds, and delivers next-generation solutions, including AI and content moderation, for global and disruptive brands across high-growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media and eCommerce and fintech.

TELUS Health is a global healthcare company, which provides employee and family preventative healthcare and wellness solutions. Our TELUS team, along with our 100,000 health professionals, are leveraging the combination of TELUS’ strong digital and data analytics capabilities with our unsurpassed client service to dramatically improve remedial, preventative and mental health outcomes for over 50 million people, and growing, around the world. As the largest provider of digital solutions and digital insights of its kind, TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods enables efficient and sustainable production from seed to store, helping improve the safety and quality of food and other goods in a way that is traceable to end consumers.

Driven by our determination and vision to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $900 million, in cash, in-kind contributions, time and programs, and 1.8 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us @TELUSNews on Twitter and @Darren_Entwistle on Instagram.

About the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Located in the heart of Canada where major rivers and historic cultures come together in Winnipeg, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a place of hope and optimism that encourages people to connect with something larger than themselves and acknowledge their personal stake in building a better world. A stunning achievement in architectural design, it opened in 2014 as the first national museum established outside Canada’s capital region – and the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of human rights for all.

Find out more at humanrights.ca, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


For more information, please contact:

Lena Chen

TELUS Public Relations

lena.chen@telus.com


Rorie McLeod

CMHR Media Relations

rorie.mcleod@humanrights.ca

Cell: 204-299-0303


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/7f9afaa1-8117-4175-bf5e-85b46a39bc88