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Why the caged bird sings

NEWS RELEASE SHINGWAUK RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS CENTRE ************************* The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) and the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) are pleased to present an exhibition by noted Cree/Métis artist Cheryl L'Hirond



The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) and the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) are pleased to present an exhibition by noted Cree/Métis artist Cheryl L'Hirondelle, titled "Why the Caged Bird Sings: Here I Am," scheduled to open at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, 2014, at the AGA.

Cheryl L'Hirondelle is a multifaceted artist, singer, songwriter, and curator.

Originally from Alberta, L'Hirondelle's work focuses on the Cree worldview, and has been featured in Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2001).

In 2005 and 2006 she was the recipient of the Imagine Native New Media Award, and won two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in 2006 and 2007.

She is currently a member of the OCAD University Indigenous Education Council in Toronto, Ontario, and is working toward completing "SingLand / SongMark", a global interdisciplinary auditory mapping project.

L'Hirondelle's exhibition is a multimedia installation and a co-songwriting and recording project with imprisoned women in correctional facilities from across Canada, which features a variety of telephones.

"Inside these thick institutional walls, a circular central light suggests that a sacred, life affirming space has been forged. High above, the rolling hills of the northern plains are visible - ultimately the only thing capable of sustaining and cradling us. Each of the tablets reveals a woman sitting at a payphone singing into the receiver. Will you answer the phone and receive the transmission?" said L'Hirondelle in describing her exhibition at the AGA.

L'Hirondelle's exhibition introduces a new partnership between the SRSC and AGA, which demonstrates the AGA's commitment to offering exhibitions which are respectful of the Centre's Healing and Reconciliation through Education initiatives.

Several similar initiatives have already been hosted at Algoma University, including artist residencies, the last of which saw L'Hirondelle develop "Why the Caged Bird Sings: Here I Am."

The new partnership allows the SRSC and its partners to further the reach of the decades old grassroots and formal work by Survivors to address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.

In joining these efforts, the AGA contributes to community access to more arts-based educational programming and helps connect the public to the arts programming being conducted at the University.

This programming is funded in large part by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation through a two-year Residential Schools Research Grant, awarded to the Centre and Algoma University in 2012.

"The role of art in Indigenous cultures, historically and contemporarily - and importantly in efforts to heal and educate in response to the legacy of Residential Schools - cannot be understated. It is a central component to our education efforts at the Centre, too," said Jonathan Dewar, Director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

"Interest on the part of the AGA shows the broader interest in healing and reconciliation that Canadians have expressed over the past few years of intense scrutiny of Residential Schools and related issues. We are very pleased to have the AGA and its patrons join us in these efforts."

The exhibition will be available in the Education Gallery of the AGA until April 26, 2014. L'Hirondelle will be at the grand opening on Thursday, available to answer any questions.

"The AGA is pleased to announce an exciting partnership between the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Shingwauk Residential School Centre, Algoma University," said Katie Alton, Marketing and Office Coordinator for the Art Gallery of Algoma.

"Given the Art Gallery of Algoma's location and its responsibility to the community to offer inclusive exhibition programming, the AGA is very honoured to have made this connection with the Centre. The Gallery looks forward to offering future exhibitions that are using visual language to present inclusive picture of Canadian history and society today."

For more information on the exhibition, please contact Krista McCracken at 705-949-2301, Ext. 2623, or email      


About the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre

The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre is a cross-cultural research and educational development project of Algoma University, the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association, and the National Residential School Survivor Society.

Shortly after the closure in 1970 of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, and in the early years of Algoma University College's relocation to the present site, Residential School Survivors connected to the Shingwauk School, their families and communities, and their allies were catalysts in the growing Healing Movement, culminating in the introduction of the original Shingwauk Project in 1979 and the 1981 Shingwauk Reunion.

From these watershed events began the decades-long work of collecting, organizing and displaying photographs and other Residential School materials, conducting research, and educating the public that led to the establishment of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Project, now known as the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, respectively.

About Algoma University  

Algoma University offers a wide variety of liberal arts and sciences degree options including programs in Psychology, Social Work, Computer Science, Business Administration, Fine Arts, Community Economic & Social Development, and Biology in Sault Ste. Marie, Brampton, Timmins and St. Thomas.

As a partner with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Algoma U is committed to respecting Anishinaabe knowledge and culture.

Algoma University has launched its Essential Elements Campaign to expand its campus and offer more scholarships and awards to students. To learn more, visit

About the Art Gallery of Algoma

The Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) was founded as a non-profit public art gallery and incorporated on July 7, 1975.

Established by a group of dedicated volunteers and arts enthusiasts, the AGA honours its roots as a community organization with its mission statement - celebrating culture, educating visitors and enriching lives through the visual art.

The AGA's vision is to be a premiere visual arts institution in northern Ontario, gaining national recognition and international partnerships.