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6th Annual Tanabe Prize for BC Painters

September 29, 2022 - December 18, 2022 Curated by Jaimie Isaac, Chief Curator

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is proud to feature a spotlight on the 6th Annual Tanabe Prize for British Columbia painters exhibition 2022. The two artists awarded are Robert Burke and Rain Cabana-Boucher.

In honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Every Child Matters and Orange Shirt Day, the AGGV is exhibiting work by Robert Burke (recipient of the 2022 Tanabe Prize for BC painters). His artwork reflects his unique experiences and perspectives as a residential school survivor. While September 30 was established in recognition of Indigenous residential school survivors, their families, and communities, we are reminded that reconciliation is not just one day of the year. Robert Burke’s artwork will remain on view at the Gallery on the ramp wall adjacent the exhibition galleries until December 2022. We hope that this work will invite staff and visitors to reflect on how the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada can be acted on in our own lives.

Robert Burke was born in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories in 1944, to a Metis mother, his father was a Black American soldier, who he did not know. At the age of 4, Burke was sent to live at the St. Joseph Mission School. Burke worked as a logger, heavy duty mechanic and cedar contractor prior to attending the Victoria College of Art, beginning at the age of 53 and graduating in 2000. Burke has lived on Vancouver Island for over 50 years. He has exhibited at both public and commercial galleries.

Of Burke’s work the selection committee said, “Robert Burke’s paintings express an energy of brilliant bold colours that defy the sombre memories and historical realities of Canada’s history which he brings to the forefront of narrative. The colours and figures are freed from naturalistic formalities, to convey the celebration of survival and resilience.” Artists are selected for the Tanabe Prize by contemporary art curators who are connected to art museums and galleries in British Columbia. Selection is based on exceptional creativity coupled with a promise of future achievements. The Tanabe Prize is an annual award given to artists whose primary medium is painting and who are residents of British Columbia. Robert Burke was chosen for the prize as a mid-career artist and Rain Cabana-Boucher was chosen for the prize as an emerging artist.

Please check back in the new year for the next iteration of the Tanabe Prize exhibition spotlighting Cabana-Boucher’s work.


Former residential school students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.

Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310.

Paintings by Robert Burke
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