Jordan Stranger aims to create change and conversation with his new art exhibition.

By Ally Sigurdson

Jordan Stranger, 29, and his son sit near the Tree of Life, a key part of Stranger’s art gallery. /ALLY SIGURDSON

Jordan Stranger, 29, opened up his art exhibit to the public on April 12 at the Graffiti Art Programming Inc. His newest exhibit, I am not an Indian, was created to demonstrate the reality of the Indian Act’s negative outcomes through Stranger’s own experiences and interpretation.


Stranger is a descendent of residential school survivors and he has committed most of his life to spreading awareness of the history of residential schools and the harm they caused the Indigenous population.


“It took away so many things,” said Stranger. “So much culture, so much love and so much pride in who we are as Indigenous people.”


Stranger graduated from the Graphic Design program at Red River College in 2012. His artwork is well recognized in Winnipeg. Dozens of friends and family members came out to support Stranger’s work on opening night. The small gallery held 50 people, and many became emotional over Stranger’s art display.


The main art exhibit displayed five evenly-spaced rows of dark dirt in the centre of the floor. Each small pile representing a grave, a life lost by the residential school system.


The walls of the gallery held Stranger’s work for the last several years. Each sketch is completely different from the others, and every stroke of Stranger’s pencil appeared to be deliberate in the pieces.


Pat Lazo, the artistic director for the Graffiti Art Programming Inc., said he is very proud to present Stranger’s work.


“I got shivers down my spine when he told me how he wanted to display the work,” Lazo said. “I feel very lucky to have met Jordan.”


A separate section of the gallery held Stranger’s family paintings. He had several family members that were sent to residential schools.


“I was struggling to find myself in the world because I didn’t know my identity,” said Stranger. “There is a lot of confusion around my past. The Indian Act put our people into positions that they should have never been in.”

“We all suffer in our own ways, and this is my way of showing what I had to do to overcome those things,” said Stranger. “This tragedy will never leave us, but we can step in the right direction.”


Stranger said he turned negativity into something positive. “Everyone should strive to do that in their life. When I turn to my culture, only good things come.”


I am not an Indian will be on display at Graffiti Art Programming Inc. until May 31. Admission is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item.