Vancouver’s Year of Reconciliation Public Art Series Receives International Recognition

Jeremy Borsos, video, 1.16m

“Reconciliation” by Jeremy Borsos. Still from video

The City of Vancouver revealed that its public art project for the Year of Reconciliation was honoured on June 11, 2015 by Americans for the Arts as one of the outstanding projects created in 2014. The prestigious award, granted by the Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network, celebrates the most compelling public artworks produced in North America. The works were recognized from over 300 submissions and selected by a jury of independent experts.

The series consisted of 10 commissioned works appearing in bus shelters; on video screens located in the downtown core; as large-scale banners in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library downtown; and as an over-sized photo mural at the Canada Line City Centre Station. The artworks were created by ten Canadian artists with backgrounds from Vancouver, Hong Kong, the Okanagan Nation’s Upper Nicola Band and the Kwakwaka’wakw culture of Quadra Island. Congratulations to Krista Belle Stewart, Jeannette Sirois, Dionne Paul, Brian Liu, Alexa Hatanaka, Emilie Crewe, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Jeremy Borsos, Sonny Assu, and the collabaorative team of Tania Willard, Gabrielle Hill and Peter Morin!


  •  Making Circles: The Chilkat Dancing Blanket by Emilie Crewe
    A video by Vancouver artist Emilie Crewe, Making Circles: The Chilkat Dancing Blanket, aired on the downtown screens from April to August 2014. The 2.47 minute silent video contrasts close-ups of the hands of master weaver Donna Cranmer with images of the 100-year-old Anislaga Chilkat Blanket that was returned to Alert Bay from Europe.

  • Reconciliation by Jeremy Borsos
    A video by Jeremy Borsos aired on the downtown screens from March to August 2014. The contemplative video dwells on a hand-written excerpt from the official apology to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada for the residential schools.

  • Her Story by Krista Belle Stewart
    Krista Belle Stewart’s video aired on the downtown screens from April to August 2014. This work draws on the original footage from the CBC documentary about the artist’s mother, Seraphine: Her Own Story (1967). It touches on the young woman’s journey from residential school to UBC and the city.


  • The Underlying States by Tania Willard with Gabrielle Hill and Peter Morin
    A collaborative drawing project by Tania Willard, Gabrielle Hill, and Peter Morin appeared as a series of four bus shelters throughout May 2014. The images were created in the style of the exquisite corpse, a technique made popular by the Surrealists in the early 20th century as a way of exploring the unconscious and associative powers of images.
  • Untitled by Dionne Paul
    Dionne Paul created bus shelter posters that referred directly to 1828 – 1998, the years of the Canadian Residential School System. The posters appeared in various sites around the city through August 2014.
  • Reconciliation by Sonny Assu
    Sonny Assu created a series of eight transit shelter posters that appeared in various sites around the city. The brightly coloured images paired the word “reconciliation” with “teach”, “honour”, “hope”, “lead”, “learn”, “rise”. The posters appeared around the city from March to early April 2014.
  • It’s Written on Your Face by Jeannette Sirois
    Jeannette Sirois created a series of four photo realistic drawn portraits with words of connection towards healing of racial biases “tattooed” across the faces of each person. The posters appeared in various sites around the city through July 2014.
  • Markusie, Edith, Tilu / See Me, Seemi by Alexa Hatanaka
    Toronto artist Alexa Hatanaka created two new bus shelter posters based on block prints she made from images she took while doing workshops in Nunavut and Nunavik. The posters appeared around the city through April 2014.
  • Giants Among Us by Bracken Hanuse Corlett
    Vancouver artist Bracken Hanuse Corlett created two bus shelter posters that explored the role of monsters and giants from Northwest Coast indigenous oral history. The posters were in sites around the city through June 2014.


  • Open Handed by Brian Liu
    Brian Liu created a set of six banners for the Vancouver Public Library downtown which depicted hands making welcoming gestures on a painterly background of abstract colour. They served as an invitation to witness the process of understanding, healing, and reconciliation. The banners were installed from March through October 2014. Learn more about the artist and the projects that launched in March 2014.
Brian Liu

“Open Handed” by Brian Liu


  • Her Story by Krista Belle Stewart
    Krista Belle Stewart created a large photo mural derived from a production still from a 1967 CBC documentary about her mother, the first Aboriginal public health nurse in BC. The image reflects personal and institutional histories and the complexities of residential school history. The mural was on display at the Canada Line City Centre Station from March to September 2014. Learn more about the artist and the projects that launched in March 2014.

“Her Story” by Krista Belle Stewart

Vancouver City Council proclaimed June 21, 2013 to June 20, 2014, as a Year of Reconciliation in Vancouver in response to Reconciliation Canada’s national call to action to help build more inclusive communities.

The year-long effort included gatherings, intercultural dialogue and storytelling workshops, public education, and cultural and arts programs as ways to mend the past, build shared understanding, and to create a legacy for meaningful change in society.

The call to Canadian artists was issued in the fall of 2013. A panel of Aboriginal artists and curators selected the projects to be commissioned from 55 submissions from across Canada.

The Reconciliation artworks are the third project by our Public Art Program to win the American for the Arts’ Public Art Network award. Earlier recipients were Fiona Bowie for Flow (2009) and Myfanwy MacLeod for The Birds (2010). Janet Echelman’s Skies Painted by Unnumbered Sparks, a dramatic interactive project displayed at Vancouver Convention Centre during the 2014 TED conference, was another honoree.

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