As we began to celebrate National Indigenous History Month, Summer Solstice, and Indigenous Peoples Day last year, it was amid the beginning stages of uncovering the unmarked, hidden remains of children at former residentional schools across the country. As we once again recognize these important events, sadly, even more unmarked mass graves and children’s remains have been found:
- Kamloops, BC, Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation: 215
- Brandon, MB, Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation: 104
- Marieval, SK, Cowessess First Nation: 751
- Cranbrook, BC, Ktunaxa First Nation: 182
- Kuper Island, BC, Penelakut Tribe in B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands: 160
- Williams Lake, BC, Williams Lake First Nation: 93
- Grouard, AB, Kapawe’no First Nation: 169
- Punnichy, SK, Nation Unknown: 14
- Kamsack, SK, Keeseekoose First Nation: 12
- Fort Pelly, SK, KEESEEKOOSE FIRST NATION: 42
- Muskowekwan reservation, SK, Muskowekwan First Nation: 35
As more unmarked graves continue to be found across Turtle Island, we understand the difficult challenge of celebrating the diverse cultural brilliance of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis knowledge(s), healing practices, languages, art, music, film, dance, and literature while honouring our ancestors and mourning the loss of hundreds of children and bracing for what may come as searches continue.
Indigenous peers, Knowledge Keepers, and those who are a part of our local community as patients, volunteers, and leaders, have stressed the importance of honouring and talking about these undeniable and difficult truths. This can be done while also celebrating, sharing in, and uplifting Indigenous brilliance and joy and Pride festivities.
This is a time to celebrate and honour our kin and be an example for future generations. Before truth, must come reconciliation. We can carry joy and grief together.
This is a time to be gentle. To be patient. To be kind to your Indigenous friends, family, peers, students, faculty, learners, partners, and patients; and for all of us seekers of joy and truth, to speak from the taught wisdom of our ancestors.
This time of grief and reflection must include More Than Words, more than lowered flags… real action is required. Part of that action is celebrating our youth and honouring our ancestors by having ceremonies and celebrations in COVID safe ways—healing through joyful art, music, language education, and literature infused practices and knowledge sharing.
We encourage everyone to continue learning about the traditional lands we live on, read the reports and guides available on the CWP-IH hub (Truth and Reconciliation Report and its 94 calls to action, MMIWG2S Report recommendations and the Indigenous Health Primer and Health Values Statement).
Choose one or more action items listed below to advance truth and reconciliation. Templates and resources a linked within:
- Visit the On Canada Action Guide
Download the Indigenous Ally Toolkit
- Write your MP asking:
- For clean drinking water for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities
- For TRC calls to action to be honoured as requested 2009: Forensic archaeology investigations on residential school sites
- That Orange Shirt Day (September 30th) be made a Provincial Stat to honour ancestors, survivors, and to uplift the importance of education for all ages
More Than Words began as a humble movement that started at the outset of the pandemic and has continued to grow over the last two years, standing in solidarity with Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse community members, aligning with Pride Month.
As many know, Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year (this year falling on June 21) –coincides with National Indigenous People’s Day. While traditions vary from nation-to-nation, Summer Solstice is a time when many cultures celebrate the beginning of summer. For many First Nations communities, giving thanks for all of creation and Mino Baamodziwin (The Good life) along with Mishoom Giizis, (Granfather Sun) is honoured, celebrated, and feasted. MANY strawberries are to be had. Ancestors honoured, Elders and youth doted on, listened to; and made to feel really special.
This June, CWP-IH has collaborated on creating this Virtual Resource Space with our partners (UHN Indigenous Health & Social Medicine, The Indigenous Cancer Care Program, Ontario Health (Toronto), and U of T’s Office of Indigenous Health.) This hub features a calendar (below) highlighting several amazing initiatives and events to mark National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People’s Day. (Dates and times to be announced next week):
These virtual events will include giveaways and a free botanical art download. Further details will be announced soon!
In the meantime, explore the hub, update your calendars, and we really hope that you take at least one action item from the list above upon yourself—as a step towards authentic reconciliation—and encourage your peers, family members, and neighbours to do the same.
We will be updating this space with more resources and if you have any suggestions or additional events for our calendar, please email us.
Click the graphics below for supports and resources from the Centre for WISE Practices and collaborative relations: