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TRC Calls to Action inspire new piece of Indigenous art

For immediate release: June 22, 2022 - 9:16am

To coincide with Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day, Saskatoon Transit has unveiled its fourth bus shelter displaying Indigenous artwork. These shelters reaffirm Saskatoon Transit’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #79 

This year’s shelter was created through a collaboration between the Saskatoon Survivors Circle and Indigenous artist, Justine "Tini" Stilborn. Stilborn worked to capture the reflections of the Survivors using visual art. She sought to tell the story of their past including the atrocities of residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and those resulting from the child welfare and foster care system. But the artwork is also intended to capture the Survivors’ hopes for the future.  

Stilborn created her designs using Procreate and Adobe Illustrator which were then cut out of metal sheets by MetalShapes for installation at 885 Confederation Drive 

“The meetings between the Survivors and Justine were open and emotional conversations about what we wanted to communicate through this piece of art” says Survivor Frank Badger. 

We hope this will become a place and symbol of reconciliation, healing, and unity for all Indigenous people says Survivor Barb Badger. 

The artwork’s storytelling begins on the left panel, with the Sixties Scoop depicting young Indigenous children being taken from their homes and families. This panel was done in red to convey the stereotype of the red skin of Indigenous people and the bloodshed and pain experienced.  

The back panels illustrate Indigenous children’s involuntary assimilation to euro-western culture shown by the cutting of their hair. These panels also show Indigenous children being removed from their homes in more contemporary times, bridged by shoes that represent the unmarked graves of residential school children. The hands at the top reflect the broken connection between Indigenous generations and the yearning to reconnect. These panels were done in orange to align with orange shirt day and the Every Child Matters movement.  

The right panel is designed to elicit a sense of freedom as Indigenous people return to their cultural practices and reconnect with their ancestors. This panel is yellow to represent hope and joy.  

For the first time, art was also added to the ceiling of a bus shelter. “This piece depicts the dawn of a new day where Indigenous persons can celebrate their babies again without the fear of having them taken,” says Stilborn. “There are little faces in the clouds, drawn from the ultrasounds of my two daughters.”  

“Saskatoon Transit’s work with the Saskatoon Survivors Circle continues to advance reconciliation in Saskatoon,” says Mayor Charlie Clark. “The stories of the Survivors are the truth we must understand that leads us towards meaningful reconciliation. The beautiful work of art by this Indigenous artist is now a visual representation of the Survivors stories. Thank you to the Survivors Circle, to Justine, and to Saskatoon Transit for all being part of our shared journey towards reconciliation.” 

“Following the location of unmarked residential school graves, Saskatoon Transit was inspired to reach out to the Saskatoon Survivors Circle,” says Tracey Davis, Acting Director of Saskatoon Transit. “Truth and reconciliation go hand in hand, and this year was our opportunity to help tell those truths through this shelter installation.”  

“Art brings people together; it creates conversations, inspires and unifies our communities, and gives hope for the future,” says Melissa Cote, the City’s Director of Indigenous Initiatives. “This project is a perfect example of how art can be healing as well as an opportunity for learning.” 

The other three Saskatoon Transit bus shelters displaying Indigenous artwork are located at the following locations: 

  • In front of Aden Bowman Collegiate (1904 Clarence Ave S) 
  • 12th Street and Broadway Avenue 
  • E.D. Feehan on the north side of Rusholme Road, west of Avenue M