Connecting Generations: A Seniors Art Exhibit from the Eyes of Students

July 4, 2022

Originally published: June 10, 2022 — Bright coloured pictures and black and white portraits of seniors in the style of cubes adorn the walls outside the Langley City council chambers. The artwork is all part of a collaborative project organized by the Langley Human Dignity Coalition and involved many community partners, including students at Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary. Since April, students met with seniors at the nearby Langley Seniors Resources Society to listen, document their lives, and create artwork that tell their stories. You can read about their process here.

On Wednesday, June 8, members of the community gathered to celebrate the opening of the art exhibit and honour the seniors who have shared their lives.

“They formed really genuine connections,” says Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary teacher, Cheryl Hillier. “The students knew so much about their lives just from listening to their stories.”

“I remember one of the students came back and went, ‘I didn’t expect them to be so energetic,” laughs Hillier. “Cause they just have an image of what seniors in our community are like and I think some of the seniors had preconceived ideas of what the kids in our community are like. They were all just, there was so much beautiful learning about humanity that took place.”

The ceremony opened with an acknowledgement that it took place on the traditional, unceded, and ancestral territories of the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. A few of the individuals who inspired the young artists took part in an Indigenous blanketing ceremony, organized by District Aboriginal Support Workers, Carlyn Andres and Deanna Miller. This is a cultural practice to show honour and respect.

To further acknowledge the seniors, the students also performed a song which they wrote called “You Matter.” A reception was held after the ceremony which gave students, staff, and attendees, the opportunity to view the artwork.

The Langley Human Dignity Coalition organized the initiative with support from Langley City and the Township of Langley, along with the partnership of the Langley Senior Resources Society, Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary, Langley Community Services Society, and Inclusion Langley.