Artist Carey Newman, originally from Sooke, received the Order of B.C. award this year for his installation called The Witness Blanket. The Witness Blanket is a wooden installation made out of hundreds of items from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures. (Photo contributed)

Artist Carey Newman, originally from Sooke, received the Order of B.C. award this year for his installation called The Witness Blanket. The Witness Blanket is a wooden installation made out of hundreds of items from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures. (Photo contributed)

Island artist receives Order of B.C. award

Carey Newman created Witness Blanket that travelled across the Nation

Over the course of artist Carey Newman’s career, he’s carving a path for reconciliation.

Newman grew up living on Kaltasin Road in Sooke, and at 12 years old started selling his work at the museum, as well as at the Sooke Fine Arts Show.

“I’ve been doing art since I was five years old, but those were two really big moments in my life, where I earned what I considered a significant amount of money for my work,” said Newman.

Coming from a long line of First Nation artists and carvers, becoming an artist was a natural fit for him. Newman creates various pieces and uses multiple different mediums, including jewelry, wood carvings, stone sculptures, and totem poles.

“I make indigenous art, that is sort of the basis of it, but I do everything from prints to full-scale totems,” Newman said.

“At different times I like different mediums for different reasons, but I think the one that I always go back to is wood carvings. It’s very satisfying, working with wood and in honour of my ancestors.”

Newman said art is an outlet for him, and he loves to challenge himself when creating a new piece.

“Each piece has meaning behind it. I ask questions to who I’m working with and shape my pieces off that,” he said.

Over the years Newman’s style slowly evolved. He never had a goal of creating art for reconciliation, he said it just sort of happened.

“I have been doing this for over 30 years, and more recently I have been doing projects that are more community involved, such as the Witness Blanket,” said Newman.

RELATED: Witness Blanket: Weaving pieces of history

The Witness Blanket is a wooden installation made out of hundreds of items from residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures.

Newman travelled all over Canada meeting with more than 10,000 people, hearing their stories and gathering items for the blanket. A documentary was created along the way, which helped share the stories and spread the truth around what took place in residential schools.

“Each piece on the blanket has a story, but it also opens up conversation and memories of those who look at it,” said Newman. “My father was in a residential school, so I wanted to do something that told the whole story.”

The Witness Blanket has been toured across the country to educate people, and because of this project, Newman received an Order of B.C. award this year.

“I am humbled, and I recognize the honour of this award, but I am hesitant to celebrate when there is so much work left to be done,” said Newman, giving an example that over 100 reserves still don’t have clean water to drink. “Before the Witness Blanket, I thought reconciliation meant bringing people together, but as I heard the stories, I better understood the damage that was caused.”

Newman plans to continue doing pieces that engage the community, to be a voice for indigenous people, and hopes that his work will leave a lasting impact on society. He recently was given a position as an art professor at the University of Victoria, where he will begin this fall.

“This project changed what I feel is important, and I can’t turn it off. I want to use this voice I have now to continue to speak about truth,” said Newman.

“The world is a crazy place these days, and history shows that in a time of craziness, art is so important. I want to use it to send a message. I’m sprinting to keep up with the ideas in my head, I want to get them all done before I run out of time.”



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education advisor Tom McEvay congratulates two Alberni Valley Bulldogs on their high academic achievements for the 2015-16 season: Quinn Syrydiuk, left, for college and Cayden Kraus for high school. (KAICEE TROTT PHOTO)
BCHL: Port Alberni’s Tom McEvay joins Coquitlam Express as education advisor

McEvay now schools players for three teams, including Alberni and Nanaimo

Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts at Argyle Street and Sixth Avenue in May 2020. Despite a delay due to COVID-19 measures, the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith was able to collect and put up half of the art banners it usually does in the Rotary Arts District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Rotary Arts District banner program switches to ‘paint at home’ for 2021

Arrowsmith Rotary Club needs 80 registrations to go ahead this year

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
BUDGET 2021: City of Port Alberni looks at tax increase of 3.95 percent

City of Port Alberni held its first budget meeting of the year

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hikers among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and City of Port Alberni have chosen the Voyent Alert! app for emergency notifications. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Alberni, ACRD unveil new emergency alert system

Program is a response to criticism of botched communication after 2018 tsunami warning

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

Most Read