The number stands out now. It has it’s own identity. The sight of shoes lined up row by row to represent children lost adds a level of realism. How long were they mapping and determining the magnitude of this mass grave. How have the people working on this site been processing this. Here. On home soil. Canada.
The history of Canada in relation to Indigenous people is messy. There are many things that need to be brought to light yet. We have not seen the last of the horrors. Hopefully we will move into a place of healing and restoration as we share the collective pain as Canadians… regardless of our race of origin.
We started a course this month on Honouring Indigenous Children and Their Families. It’s a required course in the Foster Parent training curriculum that hasn’t been available for a while because of Covid-19 restrictions and the changes that had to be made to deliver it on line.
It is timely for us.
As we met for the first time this month I didn’t know what to expect from the Elder and Cree woman who were presenting information to us. We began our course with the moderator asking us to spend 2 minutes in silence to honour the 215. Then Russel, the elder who was with us that evening asked to sing a prayer for us. He explained that the words were saying that we are all lost without the Creator Father leading us. As he sang and kept the rhythm with his rattle I felt the goosebumps rise on my arms. A holy moment with someone who had been in a residential school and lived to talk about it. He was very candid about all of us needing to recognize our Creator Father to navigate the challenges ahead.
He seems to be a man with a gentle spirit and an easy laugh. He didn’t condemn the Catholic church, the priests or the white Canadians who did this to his people. He simply spoke with sorrow of moving ahead, honouring those lost and learning to do better.
As he and Mary, the Cree woman speaking to us, shared about the beliefs of their culture, the symbols that are significant to them and how it shapes the way they live there was much laughter and joking. They love to laugh and share stories. They both have histories of trauma that impacted many years of their lives in devastating ways. They don’t hide their mistakes. They both are looking ahead to a better future for their grandchildren.
We were honoured to spend 3 hours with them. To see through their eyes the foundation of their culture and the devastation of having it denied them. They shared a gift with us. They call it reciprocity. We have a gift we can share with them as we learn and appreciate all that they are.
Indigenous children are disproportionately represented in Foster Care. We created the situation by destroying a culture that was centered on children and forcing our way of life upon them. We have much left to do in acknowledging this and making restitution. But we will learn, and we will do better!
My hope and prayer is that indigenous children who spend time in foster care will be given a healthy understanding of their culture and an appreciation of all that they have come from!
Every child matters.
May we seek to reverse the damage inflicted on an entire culture by our narrow view of the right way to live. May those of us raised in a world where the typical stereotype of an indigenous person was negative and derogatory be willing to set aside what we have been taught or absorbed inadvertently, and learn the truth.
Looking forward to continuing to learn more in this course all month! Thankful for those who are patient enough to educate us!
May we have ears to hear.
In the midst of the mess