‘Sense of urgency’ exists for removal of residential schools memorial at Vancouver Art Gallery
Hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes placed at a memorial to the students of B.C.’s residential schools remain on the steps of the downtown Vancouver Art Gallery, months after the city and three local Indigenous Nations asked the artist to remove the installation.
The city and each of the three Indigenous governments — xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) — sent the artist, Tamara Bell, four letters in November asking for the temporary memorial to be removed.
And a city spokeswoman said on Thursday that because proper protocols weren’t followed for what is supposed to be a temporary memorial, there is a “sense of urgency” for the removal of the display. It has been up since May 2021, after news that the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, using special equipment, detected what they said could be 215 unmarked graves on the site of an old residential school in Kamloops.
The memorial has since grown to more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to include stuffed animals, banners saying No Pride in Genocide and Every Child Matters, as well as a full-sized tipi, a camping tent, a covered meeting area, as well as a table selling T-shirts and requesting donations, and a portable toilet. The area is ringed by temporary blue metal fencing and orange-and-white City of Vancouver barriers, and in the middle of the plaza is a sign saying No Public Access.
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