An art installation sculpturally and symbolically woven into a blanket made of cedar wood is on display at Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre near Truro beginning today, Oct. 19. The Witness Blanket, a universal symbol of remembrance and protection, was created by First Nations artist Carey Newman. It supports and connects items that represent the Indian Residential School System. “I created this monument to reflect the strength of my people and, as more people experience and stand witness to this piece of Canadian and First Nations history, it is my hope they will be affected in some way,” said Mr. Newman. “The fact that the blanket is now travelling the country and being shared and experienced by people in every province and territory — people who may or may not know about what really happened to First Nations people, is a humbling experience for me as an artist.” Mr. Newman first envisioned the piece partially in response to his father’s experiences in residential schools — experiences his father was reluctant to share. Not wanting that history to be lost, he saw an opportunity to create a tangible reminder. In 2013, he and a small team travelled across the country visiting communities and events, such as the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, to share his vision for the blanket and to encourage people to provide items for the project. They collected letters and photographs, children’s shoes, pieces of former schools, and even shorn braids. The cedar frames hold more than 800 objects collected from residential schools, churches, government buildings, friendship centres, band offices, and universities from across Canada. The Government of Nova Scotia provided plaster rosettes from the Legislative Chamber at Province House and door handles from Government House. “We’re proud to have partnered with Mi’kmaq communities to bring the Witness Blanket to Nova Scotia,” said Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. “We want to ensure all Nova Scotians have more opportunities to learn about our shared history, including Aboriginal culture and heritage.” The project is on a seven-year tour of the country. It arrived in Nova Scotia in mid-September at Cape Breton University, hosted by Unama’ki College and the Cape Breton University Art Gallery before moving to Millbrook Culture Heritage Centre in mid-October. It remains in Millbrook until Nov. 26. “I am proud that the community of Millbrook is able to host this national memorial,” said Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade. “Residential schools had a devastating impact on Mi’kmaq communities. Events such as this, held in the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre is not only part of reconciliation but demonstrates to all that our culture is thriving. I encourage all Nova Scotians to take the time to visit it.” The blanket structure is more than two metres high and 12 metres long. A multi-media presentation helps connect viewers to the blanket in a personal way. The blanket is a national monument testifying to the atrocities of the Indian Residential Schools. However, as a blanket, it also represents and demonstrates that healing has begun and will continue.
For many years, Brock alumnus Corey Fleischer (BA ’06) struggled to determine what he wanted to do with his life.But all that changed one fateful day on his way to a power-washing job in the suburbs of Montreal.The #ErasingHate movement has been gaining traction around the world.“I was sitting in my truck at a red light when I noticed a swastika spray painted on a cinder block,” Fleischer recalled. “I had all the tools necessary to remove the graffiti, but I didn’t. I just went to my job. The second I drove by it I knew I was doing something wrong and that I made a mistake.”An hour into the job, unable to silence the nagging voice in his head, Fleischer dropped everything. He sent his employees home and drove back to the vandalized intersection to remove the graffiti with his power washer.“My quest for a deeper meaning in life has led me to take action and turn a pastime into a life mission,” Fleischer said. “The 15 seconds it took to remove that swastika was the feeling I had been looking for my whole life.”He channelled that energy into the creation of #ErasingHate, which targets and eliminates hate graffiti anywhere in the world for free. The movement has grown considerably online and around the globe since its inception.“I erased 50 instances of hate graffiti in the first five years and now #ErasingHate removes 50 pieces a day,” Fleischer said. “This isn’t just a movement, it’s my life’s mission.”Brock alumnus Corey Fleischer (BA ’06) is President and Founder of the global #ErasingHate movement that targets and eliminates hate graffiti anywhere in the world for free.Fleischer was first introduced to the power-washing industry through his roommate at Brock University, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree and spent three years on the men’s hockey team. He described himself as the protector of his teammates, a role that now manifests in his quest to end the cycle of hate around the world.For the first time in more than 10 years Fleischer will return to Brock’s main campus on Tuesday, March 19 to present a talk about his journey creating the global #ErasingHate movement.The presentation will be hosted in Isaac’s by the Brock University Alumni Association (BUAA) and Brock University Students’ Union from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event will feature a complimentary dinner sponsored by the BUAA and is open to all members of the Brock community. Registration is required through Eventbrite.Fleischer is the 2018 recipient of the BUAA’s Community Engagement Award, which recognizes a Brock graduate who has made outstanding contributions to their community and in doing so, has enriched the lives of others. The award honours one extraordinary graduate who has made a significant contribution as a volunteer to their community.