Surviving Truth

Artist: Maynard Johnny
Year: 2013

As the 2013 visiting artist, Maynard Johnny Jr. educated the students about the lasting effects of the residential school system in Canada. Maynard and the students discussed their thoughts and feelings on the subject and collaborated on the design of Surviving Truth, a three-panel piece that joined the permanent exhibition of the Cornett Building.

The right panel depicts a woman with a long tongue, representing language – the root of culture. She shares her tongue with a frog, connecting humans with the spirit world. The left panel depicts a man and a woman sharing one mouth, with a maple leaf and a cross inside it, representing how, through the residential school system, the Government and the Church stopped Indigenous children from speaking their own languages. In the glass center panel, there is a long house with three figures huddled inside – the Government, the Church, and Indigenous peoples. This represents Truth and Reconciliation – a process of acknowledgement and healing for Survivors, and their families. Maynard believes that educating people about residential schools is a positive step, but also that it will not fix the problems they created.