Hello CFAR Members and Friends.
At a time in Canada’s history when everyone is reeling from the horrific discovery of now thousands of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools across Canada it is more important than ever that we continue to increase our understanding of Indigenous history in this country, and how that impacts the activities in which we all engage. The impact of colonization and residential schools is multi-generational and traumatic. It is the reason that Indigenous Peoples are not at equity with the rest of Canada. It remains absolutely critical that we create an environment where we can, each one of us, equitably choose and create a good life for ourselves, and for our families.
Continuing to learn is one of the ways that we can celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Understanding Truth, as hard as it is, needs to occur before building bridges and relationships can occur. Residential schools are a Truth we need to look at without blinders on before we can heal, before we can move forward.
I had the tremendous honour and privilege of being able to spend some time in the mountains this summer with a group of Indigenous elders from many different communities and cultures. We had no access to the technology that informs us every day of the things that the world is concerned with, including each of us. Instead we were immersed in stories, in learning, in being with one another. We had time to simply be, surrounded by the spirits of the old ones who have always watched over us. We shared grief for those who have been lost and for the knowledge that travels with them. We mourned, and continue to mourn the children who did not return from residential school, those who we must honour and help on their journey in the ways that we know how to. We shared stories and emotions about the impact that western society has had on our ways of life, our communities, and our people. It was a magical and powerful time, and it was difficult as well as incredibly inspirational and transformative. It evoked memory in me of the deep wisdom of the First Peoples of Turtle Island, and of the strength of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and people. I was reminded of who I am.
Let us continue to observe critically, to listen with our whole body, to learn, to share, and to remember. #everychildmatters
You make a difference. Your membership in CFAR matters. Your support of this grassroots, community first focused organization matters. Your opinions; your hopes for our communities, organizations and people; your needs; your strengths and contributions; they all matter. Your hopes and dreams for our children and their futures matter. We can honour the children, and the survivors by working together towards a better way. Always remember, you are not alone.
You can find out about activities taking place across Turtle Island through many resources like the Orange Shirt Society, Downie Wenjack Fund, NationTalk, local Chambers of Commerce, Treaty Associations, Post-Secondary Institutions, Friendship Centres, Métis organizations, NACCA, Inuit organizations, CANDO, AFOA, and through radio stations like CFWE as well as by staying tuned to APTN. Additional ideas are available here.
Honour the day in your own way, wear orange, and we look forward to seeing you soon.