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Romeo Dallaire
The Plight of the Child Soldier - Innocence Lost

January 16 – February 23, 2014
 
Curator: Kris Webster
 
 Grades 5 and 6 students from two schools in Yarmouth and Digby counties will perform songs and dances reflecting their responses to photographs from The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative on January 16 in Yarmouth.
 
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Child Soldiers Initiative, housed at Dalhousie University, worked to present the exhibition, The Plight of the Child Soldier - Innocence Lost. Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, the Initiative is “a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training".
 
For the exhibition, elementary students in grades 5 and 6 from Yarmouth Central School and Barton Consolidated School in Digby County worked with ArtsSmarts Nova Scotia theatre education artist Linda Marie Coakley. The students were guided by Coakley to respond dramatically to photographs of child soldiers. Led by Coakley, the students chose photographs that especially interested them, then discussed their choices and wrote poems reflecting their thoughts and feelings.
 
The students also reviewed the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child and learned of the abuses suffered by child soldiers worldwide. They studied how widespread this unimaginable situation is around the world and examined the changing face of war with young boys and girls as unwilling soldiers. It was particularly meaningful for the students as many child soldiers are the same age as the Nova Scotia students.
 
The photographs in this exhibition were taken by journalists from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who journeyed into areas of conflict to visually document where children are illegally involved as child soldiers.  This opportunity was sponsored by Proof, a media organization for social justice, which uses visual storytelling for genocide prevention and peacebuilding.
 
The Plight of the Child Soldier - Innocence Lost
was supported by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s ArtsSmarts Nova Scotia program, which is dedicated to improving the lives and learning capacity of Canadian children by injecting arts into academic programs.