Enhance Justice25 January, 2016
Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation Commission has provided Canadians of all backgrounds with an unprecedented opportunity to learn about the sordid history of the Indian Residential Schools. Opened at the beginning of the 20th century and closed as late as the 1990s, the schools saw thousands of Indigenous youth taken away from their families and placed in boarding schools. There, many were stripped of their ancestral languages and cultures, and even physically and sexually abused.
The legacy of the residential schools has included high rates of suicide, violence, disappearing women, and substance abuse plaguing many Indigenous communities across the country. It has also fed a criminal justice system, which witnessed, over the last ten years, a dramatic overrepresentation of Indigenous women and men in federal and provincial penitentiaries. As a result, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recommended a series of measures to tackle the overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada’s criminal justice system, as part of the broader effort to reconcile with Indigenous communities across the country.
Inspired by the Commission’s recommendations, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation has joined forces with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Halifax-based Youth Art Connect to launch the second edition of its Justice, Art & Youth Project. The project empowers underserved youth to work with their communities in the province to build lasting solutions to justice-related issues, from the vantage point of Indigenous peoples, the African Nova Scotian community, LGBTQ communities as well as women and teenage girls. The five-year project builds on a collaboration with the art gallery, initiated in 2015, which saw over 100 artists engaged in creating an exhibition that focused on raising awareness about justice-related issues in the province. Support this initiative.