Leah Garven has had co-workers who have lost loved ones, and she never knew until now.
“There’s people that I work with every day that I had no idea have lost a sister or a mom or an aunt,” Garven, the director of galleries for the City of North Battleford, said Monday. “And it’s not just one family member. In some cases, it’s two or three. So we’re all learning.”
The travelling art installation Walking With Our Sisters is educating and inspiring youth and adults, as it enters its final week in North Battleford. The exhibition consists of vamps, unfinished moccasins to represent the unfinished lives of missing and murdered indigenous women across North America.
“We’ve got pages and pages and pages of guest books signed, and binders full of art where the message is hitting home with the youth,” she said. “The adults are particularly touched. Even myself, I continue to learn.”
With school tours booked during the event’s final days, Garven expects to surpass her goal for attendance and reach about 2,500 visits.
“I know Ottawa had 6,000 visitors and it’s a much larger city and theirs was on campus,” she said. “I had hoped if we’d had 1,500 I’d be satisfied and if we got over 2,000 I’d be quite pleased.” She added attendance was pushing 2,000 as of Monday.
The work is not yet done. Garven said they still need volunteers to help between Tuesday and Sunday of this week between 9 and 4. They’ll be asked to greet drop-in visitors and provide orientation.
Volunteers are also needed to dismantle the installation and help send it on the next leg of its journey to Brandon, Man., and from there to Maine and New Hampshire.
Garven said the young people really appear to be taking a lot away from their visit to Walking With Our Sisters. The experience for them includes seeing the fire keepers behind the gallery, who keep a sacred fire burning.
There are also hands-on activities which Garven said are meant as a response to the experience.
“A lot of them are saying that they’ll make sure they’ll listen to their parents, and watch for their safety, and watch for each other.”
Anyone wanting to help can call the gallery at 306-445-1757 and leave a message.
On Twitter: @smithco
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