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Honouring Our Children at Mohawk Park

Indigenous AffairsHonouring Our Children at Mohawk Park

The Brantford Region Indigenous Support Centre (BRISC) hosted the Honouring Our Children social to honour victims and their families impacted by residential schools on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Mohawk park was filled with more than 200 guests participating in the event, many of which wore orange shirts in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Local organizations came to the event to spread awareness and provide resources for Indigenous people in Brantford and the surrounding area.

The event began with the unveiling of artwork created by Jennifer Thomas, Kathy Moore, Monica Smoke, and Sheryl Henry to be hung inside the Mohawk Institute. The artwork featured 215 orange shirts and was made to honour victims of the residential school system. 

Jennifer Thomas, Kathy Moore, Monica Smoke, and Sheryl Henry’s artwork being revealed to the crowd during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.

“It’s really about truth-telling. I think that it’s important to start that healing process. It’s important to be able to have those brave spaces for people to be able to tell their stories and say ‘this happened. We’re still here, we’re not going away.’ We really do need people to listen to us so that we can heal.” said Rebecca Wilson, Program Manager with the Survivors’ Secretariat. 

Guests browse through the booths around Mohawk Park during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Over 20 booths were set up around Mohawk Park. The booths ranged from Indigenous vendors selling artwork, jewellery and clothing, to local organizations handing out freebies and offering education and resources for those in need.

Darienne Martin and Alexandra G. Rosetta pose for a photo at their Turtle Back Publishing booth during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Alexandra G. Rosetta of Turtle Back’s Publishing emphasized the importance of honouring Indigenous history.

“It’s the importance of becoming aware, gaining your own knowledge and understanding of what the symbolism behind the orange means, what truth and reconciliation is and how the Canadian government can start to do better,” said Rosetta. 

Darienne Martin of Turtle Back’s Publishing shared her own family’s experience with the residential school system.

“This event means that we are still here. I know that my great aunt was in (a) residential school. To this day, she still can’t utter the word or anything about it, and then she’ll start shaking and crying. So it kind of means that we’re still here and we’re still feeling the effects of everything that happened,” said Darienne.

A social dance accompanied by live traditional music was held. Guests were encouraged to join in and celebrate Indigenous culture.

Community members enjoy the social dance during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Nick Martin, an attendee at the Honouring Our Children event, encouraged the community to continue advocating for Indigenous peoples.

“​​You really hope for some sort of meaningful change, or at least acknowledgement of what’s going on, because it’s so easy to just forget about the day once it’s gone past,” said Nick.

Cheryl Adams, another guest at the event, stressed the impact that residential schools have on Indigenous communities.

“We’re all affected, right? We might not know it. But our body remembers it. Intergenerational trauma is embedded in our DNA. So we need to heal,” said Adams.

Traditional Indigenous music was played for guests to enjoy during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.
Melanie Burning and little Madison smile for a picture during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.
Avery, age 3, Charles, age 3, Allister, age 3, and Ian create crafts in honour of Truth and Reconciliation day during the Honouring Our Children event on Friday, September 30, 2022.

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