Sketching out the Past


I was hoping to lighten up last night but I guess my subconscious had some residual horror to expunge.

The result was this sketch about Residential School

I was doodling a bit before bed. I had spent a couple hours researching depression, suicide and prescription drug addiction so as you might imagine I was in a somber state of mind.

But I realized I had something here, the kernel or seed for a new series of works.

A series of drawings? A series of mini-stories? A selected history?

I’m not sure yet, but I’ll put in the back of my mind and see what cooks up over the next few months.

“Get back here!” he demanded.

But this time I would not obey…

There is a whole history of Canada and the US that people are completely unaware of. I believe that with that knowledge, perspectives would certainly change, and only for the better in the long run.

I might shop this around to publishers or keep it small. We’ll see.


Are there stories that need to be told? Myths that need new light cast on them?

Let me know what you think below.

hiy hiy

19 Replies to “Sketching out the Past”

    1. Hmm…I think my approach would be a little different. Only because I my art and thought patterns are different. I can’t for the life of me imagine undertaking the work to such a scale. I’m better in short bursts (plus I don’t think my heart could take it)

      1. Yes, I realize. Your initial image just really reminded me of the tone of some of Robertson’s stuff I’ve seen. But, I guess the tone necessarily comes from the subject of Residential Schools 🙁

  1. I believe this is a story that needs to be told, so many people don’t know what the residential school system was about. I believe your treatment would be good Aaron, you have a goodness about you and your stories that are honest but not angry! I have been following you for some time now and am impressed with your wisdom and gentleness that has power behind it!

  2. My thoughts are far from “awesome” but I will look forward to how this develops. Would love to hear the stories and see your art work accompany them. I have heard sime of these painful stories and many of them sre sad, awful, and horrible but they sre stories sll people in North Amerca need to know – just like we need to hear about slavery. Much of our history is painful and it needs to be told!

  3. I’m living in Germany and in February and March this year I joined a Coursera course arranged by Prof. Jean-Paul Restoule about Aboriginal Worldviews and Education. It was the first time I heard about residential schools in Canada and it shocked me a lot. I knew about those in the states and also in Germany we had special schools for correction where children and young people where threaten in a very bad way. Altogether I discovered a strong connection between all these schools by the attitude of mind of the western world during a special period of time. I cried a lot during this course and the widespread picture of Canada as an innocent nation crashed.
    Also I really like storytelling in pictures. For me this is a medium that can give the whole extend of information, much more than only words.
    This is what I want to add as commentary. About other consequences I can’t say anything.

  4. I was fortunate to be in Toronto during the Imagi native film festival and saw a film called moose crossing, it was very powerful. By the time the lights came on the entire audience was sobbing. Every human being should see this film. Your sketch reminded me of it. I am moved by your work and thank you. Patti

  5. A man in my tribe (Seneca) did a documentary on the schools that were on our reservation and I saw parts of it as he was putting it together – the abuse was shocking and horrifying. My own father was one of the last ones to begin his schooling at these schools before they closed them and integrated the students into the public school system. The scars and the hurt from those experiences are still so evident to me when I see these elders talk about what it was like for them. I know those experiences were deeply ingrained and the generations that have come from those elders who suffered at the hands of people who did not let them be who they were is still wielding its influence today. The awareness is needed! (thank you for sharing your drawing – I was moved.)

  6. Aaron, have you written this story yet? Throughout North America alone–from the First Nations of Canada to the tribes throughout the United States–the stories are out there, desperately needing to be told. From the Senecas and Iroquois of New York State to the Navajos and Apaches of Arizona, they’re vastly different and alike. I was honored to have lived on the reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota during the whole summer when I was 16, which is when I realized I wasn’t alone in my not fitting into the “melting pot” mentality and belonged to multicultural stew instead. My connection to the native peoples is not by blood but by heart and the blessing of my having been taught through sights, sounds and experience when I was there. It was inculcated into my being and made me aware that we are alike in our uniqueness even though my blood and yours are not the same. (I have 7 origins of birth in addition to my having learned when I was there that I was among a group who were honored by being given honorary membership into the Oglala Sioux back then.)

    Write the story, Aaron. It’s compelling. I am happy to give you additional background as I know it, if you need it. Again, as I sign on my own site, Namaste, I love you.

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