National book launch: 'Picking up the Pieces'

Shelagh Rogers talks with Witness Blanket artist/author Carey Newman

November 20, 2019

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A man wearing traditional Indigenous regalia and headdress stands in front of an art installation made of wooden panels with embedded objects.

Photo: CMHR, Doug Little

Event details

He travelled across Canada gathering hundreds of objects from survivors and sites where 77 Indian residential schools once stood.

The result was a monumental art installation called The Witness Blanket. In his new book, pre‐eminent Indigenous artist Carey Newman and co‐author Kirstie Hudson explain the remarkable and emotional process of Picking up the Pieces.


Free ticket required


Level 2 - Canadian Journeys

Their conversation with the CBC’s Shelagh Rogers at this event will be recorded for national broadcast on her show, "The Next Chapter." Rogers, who is currently Chancellor of the University of Victoria, is an Honorary Witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and a witness to The Witness Blanket.

The evening will include a book signing. The Museum’s Boutique will have copies of the book, published by Orca Book Publishers, available for sale at the event.

A book called “Picking up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and the Making of the Witness Blanket” lies on a red-and-black cloth. The cover includes a photograph of a large wood-framed art installation.

The Witness Blanket is a large, cedar‐framed artwork intricately filled with 800 items that together honour the stories of the survivors. As a work of national significance, it provides a tangible framework for conversations about the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Newman and the CMHR have forged a historically unique agreement for its lodging, protection and use. It is now being restored by the CMHR for future exhibition, while a replica tours the country.

Newman and Media One have also produced a documentary film about the making of the Witness Blanket, also called Picking up the Pieces.

Newman (Ha‐Yalth‐Kin‐Geme) is a master carver, sculptor and storyteller from Vancouver Island. Heis currently the Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria. 

Please note that this program is subject to change or cancellation.