My Healing Journey
Artwork by Mary Caesar
Curated by Jennifer Bowen
Residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada date back to around the 1850’s. The residential school system was in operation for 150 years, and thousands of aboriginal children attended these schools. Their impact had an enormous, devastating effect on the culture of Aboriginal people in the Yukon and across Canada.
The Lower Post Residential School in northern B.C. was located 20 miles south of Watson Lake, Yukon, and has been identified as one of the worst schools in Canada for abuse. Mary Caesar attended this school from the early age of four years old until she was eight years old. During her time there, Mary witnessed and experienced physical and sexual abuse and violence from the priests and nuns.
As part of her healing journey, Mary started writing poems in 1990-91, when she overcame her addiction to alcohol. In 1999, she enrolled in art school at Malaspina College-University, now Vancouver Island University, in Nanaimo, B.C. The series of paintings in this collection began when Mary started art school.
Mary began composing her artistic works based on her experiences at Lower Post Residential School. Creating art has contributed greatly to her healing journey. She paints in contemporary and representational styles and forms to depict her many experiences at the school. Painting her experiences is a way for her to cope and heal from the memories of the trauma and abuse that she suffered.