as I am going through my own decolonizing process, I am trying to introduce my oldest granddaughter (who is 5) to the past and present reality of Indigenous, Metis & Inuit people, as much as possible depending of the gruesomeness of each situation, by reading her books. Among other things (see images below). Not long ago, before bedtime, she asked me to read her her latest favorite, When We Were Alone. The next morning, as we were spending time painting, she fully invested herself on creating those 2 pieces (see image above) and told me to give them to my Indigenous friends (the women I met in the process, and of whom I frequently refer in our conversations).
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Photograph of students from Fort
Albany Residential School reading
in class overseen by a nun c 1945.
© unknown archives.algomau.ca
a day after reading
When We Were Alone*
to her for
the umpteenth time
she took some
bright colorful paint
and started filling
a sheet of paper
yellow on blue
violet on blue
pink on blue
pink on violet on blue
here are the drawings
she then reached
for a post-it
made a hole in it
inserted a green tread
here is the necklace
what’s behind all this?
j’ai mis plein de couleurs I have used many colors
pour tes amies autochtones for your Indigenous friends
pour leur faire plaisir to make them happy
je suis triste que dans les écoles I am sad that in their schools
ils leur coupaient les cheveux they cut their hair
les changaient de robe changed their dresses
et les séparaient de leur famille and separated them from their family
*When We Were Alone is a children’s
book about a difficult time in history,
the residential schools, and, ultimately,
a story of empowerment and strength.
© David Robertson, Julie Flett
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my granddaughter and I have also participated in the creation of a heart garden at the Art Hive St-Henri , on July 5, 2017.
Celebrated in May and June, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams invites individuals and organizations to join in reconciliation by planting heart gardens in their communities. Heart gardens honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each heart represents the memory of a child lost to the residential school system, and the act of planting represents that individual’s commitment to finding their place in reconciliation. – The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society)