Since May 2021, thousands of unmarked graves have been located on the grounds of former Residential Schools throughout Canada. Many of these graves are those of children who attended the residential schools and never returned home. Indigenous Peoples have always known about these Missing Ones and have lived with the loss and the pain.
The institutional abuse they suffered while alive was horrendous, the lack of respect after they died was disrespectful and shameful to those who operated these schools.
Raising Hearts to Remember seeks to honour the memory of the missing children of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools who are buried in those unmarked graves. It is a vigil for the Missing Ones, their families, and communities during the process of identification and repatriation. It is also a reminder to all that this is not history, it is about the present day and how we work together towards healing, caring and relationships with a foundation of mutual respect.
In the words of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, “we should never look away again.”
Over 100 individuals, all age groups, from seventeen parishes and community organizations participated in the project, including:
All Saints, Agassiz – Wrongs to Rights Group; St. Dunstan’s; St. Clement’s; St. Faith’s/ St. Hildegard’s Sanctuary; Holy Cross; St. Michael’s Multicultural Anglican Church; St.Laurence’; St. Martin's; St. Timothy's; St. John’s, Maple Ridge; St. John’s, Port Moody; St. John’s Shaughnessy; St. Thomas’, Collingwood; Christ Church Cathedral, St Brigid's at Christ Church Cathedral and the Whonnock Spinners and Weavers Guild.
Over the past year the participants learned about Canada’s Residential School history, and some shared their personal stories. They made felted hearts, representing the missing children, and tanned over 200 Salmon skins into leather, the salmon symbolizing the journey home and assembled these to create a seven-foot Medicine Wheel that serves as a visual reminder of our shared responsibilities in Reconciliation.
Our goal is to bring together parishes across the diocese to raise awareness and learn to truly listen to the experiences of our Indigenous, Inuit and Métis sisters and brothers.
The next step is to build communities developing creative ways to support the work of Elders, Traditional Knowledge holders, and language programs that facilitate the healing journeys of survivors of Indian residential schools and those living with intergenerational trauma.
A gathering to pay respect to the Missing Ones and thank all who contributed to the work will be held on September 10, 2022, at the Synod Office/St John’s, Shaughnessy with more details to come.
Everyone is welcome to attend and learn more about how to participate in this ongoing work.