group photo

From left to right, Saugeen First Nation Councillor Doran Ritchie and his daughter, Town of Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau, Artist Brent Henry, Saugeen First Nation Chief Lester Anoquot, Saugeen First Nation Councillor Melissa Snowdon and her daughter. Photo submitted

The Town of Saugeen Shores began the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by inviting local First Nations representatives to the unveiling of a new painting by Indigenous artist, Brent Henry. In a September 30 media release, the Town commissioned Henry following the uncovering of the unmarked gravesites at several former residential schools as a reminder of the impacts the schools had and continue to have on Indigenous communities.

The painting depicts the legacy of residential schools in Canada and is hung prominently in Council Chambers at the municipal office.

In addition to the unveiling, Council adopted a resolution on September 27 in support of reconciliation, acknowledgement and collaboration for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Canadian and Every Child Matters flags have been lowered to half mast, with staff encouraged to wear an orange shirt to show support and participate in a collective act of reconciliation.

For the community, the Town has also posted a Public Notice with resources and suggested ways to commemorate and raise awareness on the path to Truth and Reconciliation.

“This painting will hang in the Council Chambers as an ongoing reminder of the pain and suffering at residential schools, and to ensure that, as decision makers, we never forget our obligation to truth and reconciliation in our relationship with our Indigenous neighbours and in all that we do," said Luke Charbonneau, Mayor of the Town of Saugeen Shores.

"When I first spoke about residential schools before it was in the mainstream media, I found a lot of people didn't know about this horrific part in Canadian history. I felt that I could express my voice through paintings to educate and make it known as to what happened at these schools, and the impact it had on the Indigenous in Canada," said artist Brent Henry.

“Keeping the story of residential schools alive is critical for all First Nations and Indigenous Peoples, and for all Canadians as we walk this path of Truth and Reconciliation. We thank Mr Henry for honouring our story through his art. We thank the Town for recognizing the past and commissioning this painting as a lasting acknowledgement and promise for a better future," said Chief Lester Anoquot, Saugeen First Nation.

“We’ve been working closely with the Town in a spirit of understanding and cooperation. The Town has been listening and looking for ways to build ties and bring our communities together. This painting is a symbol of our progress together. We are grateful to Mr Henry and to the Town for another positive step forward," said Chief Veronica Smith, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.

Brent Henry was born in Owen Sound and raised in Southampton by his mother Marian from Newfoundland, father Rory from Saugeen First Nation, and his brother Brendan.

He has always enjoyed creating art but started to take it more seriously in his teenage years. After high school he worked throughout his community while pursuing his love to create. He has always been drawn to art because he enjoys expressing emotions from the world around him. He feels it helps him deal with anxiety and depression because he can organize all of his thoughts onto one surface. Most things influence his art, from film to music, and current events to personal situations. He loves expressing himself with paint but he has also used video, photography, and writing.

In 2013 he received the Senior Art Award and Curators Choice Award from Owen Sound Artist Co-op while in high school. Since then, he has just been creating for himself and his family and friends. He has had work displayed at the Southampton Art Gallery during summer of 2020, and has been featured in the online series “Artists in their Studio” from Rrampt magazine. He also had a solo show at the Southampton Art Gallery during July 2021, and has a solo show at the Tom Thompson Art Gallery planned for January 2022.

brent henry

Saugeen First Nation Artist Brent Henry was commissioned by the Town of Saugeen Shores in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Henry has a solo show at the Tom Thompson Art Gallery planned for January 2022. Photo submitted

NDTR unveiling

Together, Brent Henry with Chief Lester Anoquot, Saugeen First Nation, unveiled Henry's new work to be displayed in Council Chambers. Photo submitted