Program and component
Creating, Knowing and Sharing, Short-Term Projects
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Field of practice
Indigenous Carver Mines His Own Experience to Tell Stories in Stone
An accomplished artist, John Sabourin wants his work to help heal the rupture created by residential schools.
11 works for 11 stories
Stone carver John Sabourin believes the absence of a sense of belonging is just one of the devastating effects of residential schools. People stolen and forced to assimilate in an uncaring, abusive system struggle to live in healthy relationships with themselves and one another. Sabourin believes that for the Dene, traditional cultural practices offer a way home. His project, “When Caregivers Don’t Care,” will feature carvings that tell 11 stories of suffering and healing.
Restoring human relationships
For Sabourin, stone is the ideal medium for the project. It is solid and static, and it lasts forever. Yet he is also conscious of people’s desire to touch his carvings. Stone draws people in, which befits the project’s focus on attachment and restoring human relationships. Sabourin’s work has been installed in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly, the Canada House at the 2010 Olympics and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. To present his work in digital form, he will work with Web developer Brad Poulter and photographer Angela Gzowski.