New Westminster, BC – The New Westminster Museum invites the community to view its newest exhibition The 215 by Qayqayt artist Johnny Bandura on now until December 5, 2021. Bandura himself will be hosting the exhibition and he will be there to guide visitors through the stories attached to each of the portraits and respond to questions the community may have.
In May 2021, the media reported that the skeletal remains of 215 children were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School. This news struck deeply with Johnny Bandura whose grandmother – Marie Joseph – had attended that school. He faced the hard reality that he and his extended family would not be here at all if she didn’t survive the residential school. Johnny is the nephew of Qayqayt Chief Rhonda Larrabee.
Johnny recognized that many of the lost children could have been his grandmother’s classmates and friends. He channeled feelings of pain, grief and sadness into portraits to honour each of the 215. He painted the children as adults because he felt they were speaking to him; he felt they wanted to be viewed as more than just children in uniforms. Johnny let the children grow up in portrait. He gave them lives that were both traditional as well as modern: A Pow Wow Grass Dancer in traditional regalia and a Judge in courtroom robes; doctors, nurses, Fancy Dancers, punk rockers, and hockey players. Johnny imagined lives for them that reflected all areas of society. He created an exhibit to show what they could have become.
The 215 is a unique community learning opportunity about the intergenerational impacts of residential schools, and about the connection to Qayqayt First Nation.
Visitors can visit the New Westminster Museum on a timed-entry basis to see The 215. All visitors must pre-book a ticket online at booking.nwmuseumarchives.com. To maintain visitor and staff safety, only six people per bubble can enter every 20 minutes. The museum follows COVID protocols as laid out through Provincial Health Orders with information on the Anvil Centre website.
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Rob McCullough, Manager
New Westminster Museums and Heritage Services
Johnny Bandura is an artist and musician who is a member of the Qayqayt First Nation (New Westminster). He was born in the Lower Mainland and grew up in Kamloops, BC and Hay River, NWT. He is married and has three children. He comes from a very artistic family; his mother is a painter, and his father is a musician. His extended family has many artists, academics, healers, professionals, and a few athletes.
About New Westminster Museum
The New Westminster Museum is located at Anvil Centre in New Westminster. For more information, call 604-527-4640 or go to nwmuseumarchives.ca. Explore the museum’s online offerings through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
The New Westminster Museum and Archives are operated by the City of New Westminster and are financially assisted by the Government of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council.