My grandma used to tell me about the unmarked graves at her boarding school in Red Lake. As she aged, she shared more and more about her boarding school experience. The psychological, physical, and spiritual abuse they suffered carries in us now, today, and we suffer and heal and grow pushing against it every day.
With the recent acknowledgement of the unmarked graves, thus far up to 1353, is the very tip of the iceberg of our ancestors never returned to their families. As communities, we sit now with rage, grief, anger, and resolute strength during this time of the rest of the world knowing our grandparents stories were true. The church and government run boarding schools genocide was one not only of body but of love, heart, and spirit. We need to hold them accountable.
We are the direct beneficiary of our ancestors' resilience. As we work to rebuild our ceremonial life, our language, our way of life, and our path to wellness we continue their breath even when they are gone. We are someone's ancestor too.
For myself, art has never been about expression. It is about Reclamation. I use my art to learn, grow, and share out stories. We all have a role to play.
Yesterday I danced with my daughter as she becomes a woman and joins the world of women. Her strength and heart is powerful and makes me full of hope. Every day I imagine how life would be if they were taken from us. Every day I know that I cannot take a single day for granted. We are lucky to be alive.
For our beloved lost aunties and uncles.
We remember them. We grieve them. We will try our hardest to think far ahead. Miigwech to all our land, water, language, ceremony, mamas, grandmas, dads, uncles, cousins, relatives, and most of all thank you to our grandparents who survived so we could too.
-Sarah, Heart Berry CEO
To read more about boarding schools we share Denise Lajimodiere's work
Powerful article by Mary Pember