This post is very personal, and I've shared some of it elsewhere. The hope is for better things, good things, to come of it.
For the last several weeks, I've watched and listened. I am so ashamed of our collective past and that it takes the literal bones of children to remind us. But, I hope the timing is right to take a look at the wounds, listen to true history being recounted, shed tears for all of those trillions of tears shed before this, and figure out what healing really looks like.
Near the turn of this century, I voiced some narration and several roles for an animation project that introduced me to Residential Schools. The director gently explained the context for everything I was reading, speaking, and emoting. She explained that families hid their children in cupboards in hopes officials would not snatch them, that whole communities were entirely childless and will never stop grieving. She told me how important it was, that people did not understand, did not know, and that some didn't care. The losses were unfathomable and the people trying to whiten those generations were inhumane. I went home and cried for a week, and no-one in my life knew quite what to say about it when I shared what I learned. They, too, were stunned by the reality of it, whatever they knew before. I think, but am not sure, that some of those schools were STILL OPEN at the time of the recording.
As people find the remains of some of those stolen souls, and will find many more, it has changed from a sad but true part of our past and present, to a physical reality for EVERYONE to witness.
I didn't know about Residential Schools when I was a kid, while the powers were stealing children and breaking their bodies and spirits, their families, their communities. My textbooks were whitewashed and my out-of-school awareness of First Nations was limited to beautiful art and mysterious music, myths and legends, traditions, connection to the earth...and later there was knowledge of reparations around land and other then-unnamed injustices.
That said, I grew up around great Indigenous artists, actors, musicians and writers. But I only knew the surface. I think so much of generational trauma runs so deep and is something Indigenous friends work so hard to rise from that it can result in a quietness that doesn't lead to a conversation among colleagues, or become a coffee topic. Maybe they've spared themselves, maybe they've spared me.
Know this, though, I do not want to be spared. I want to hear about how this reverberates in your family and your life and I want you to be compensated, given respect, and held up by us who have been ignorant, however that came to be.
As a Collective, we've been talking through our realizations as individuals and as a group. What can we do, with what we have?
Beautigurlz Designs, whose beautiful watercolour and ink work you've seen on many of our products, has generously stepped up to donate their series of orange hearts, and we are donating time and materials. This is how The Orange Heart Collection
has come to be. 100% of proceeds from every purchase you make from the collection goes to the IRSSS, the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society. The IRSSS has been providing counselling, health support and cultural support to Residential School survivors for 20 years. We have friends that have allied with them and we trust their work. Please wear, write in, or sip from your Orange Heart purchase with the intention that you will take loving action to help heal generations of devastating damage to our First Nations.