Discovery of unmarked graves of children of residential schools
We are shocked and saddened by the recent revelations highlighting again the harm done to children and their families in the Residential School system. We are concerned too by some of the news reports we are seeing, hearing and reading.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report in 2015, stated clearly that education is the key to reconciliation. IBVM took this to heart and supported some initiatives (shared below), which have educational value.
IBVM Canadian Leadership Team
Kevin Moynihan Productions 2018 film - They Came for the Children in 5 Parts
Part 1: Introduction and presentation of “concepts” with speakers like Grand Chief Phil Fontaine, Sr Priscilla Solomon csj and Rev Fred Hirtz, Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada
Part 2: History From Assimilation to Treaty People
Part 3: The Residential Schools and Survivors
Part 4: The Churches and Apologies
Part 5: The 94 Calls to Action and Signs of Hope
Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice - Listening to Indigenous Voices: A Dialogue Guide on Justice and Right Relationships (2021)
The forum staff worked with an editorial group of indigenous and non-indigenous experts to gather the variety of voices that needed to be heard and to design a process to facilitate a transformation of heart and minds. The aim is to contribute to creating a society where Indigenous persons’ cultures, knowledge and nations are treated with respect and past and present injustices are addressed and healing can occur on a path to reconciliation.
Kairos Blanket Exercise - The KB Exercise covers over 500 years of history of Indigenous relationships with the people and Government of Canada in a 1.5 hour participative workshop led by trained volunteers. The aim is to inform, to educate, to reflect and to arouse empathy and understanding.
For about 5 years the Mary Ward Centre partnered with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to use the KBE to expose students to the kind of curriculum recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. MWC recruited volunteers, organized training sessions led by KAIROS and hosted day long programmes for classes of students. In debriefing sessions led by Elder Dr Bob Phillips, the power of the Exercise was evident.
Since COVID 19 began, KAIROS has developed an on-line version of the KBE as well as the training sessions for volunteers.
Toronto Council Fire Restoration of Identity Project at Nathan Phillips Square
IBVM, along with many other faith based groups, Religious Congregations, the Archdiocese of Toronto and other Churches has contributed financially to this project begun in 2016 and slated for completion by 2022. The “Spirit Garden” will have a highly visible Turtle Sculpture monument to honour victims and families impacted by the Residential School system. There will be a Teaching Lodge, a Gathering Space and an Amphitheatre … spaces for teaching, learning, sharing and healing.
Fundraising continues for the on-going maintenance of the space and to support on-going programming. With assistance from the TD Bank, a Sovereign Wealth Fund will raise money from businesses and corporations as well a s groups and individuals. The city and the Province also contribute.
Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) - IBVM is a member of SHARE, along with many other faith based groups and Religious Congregations. Since 2016, “reconciliation” has been a central pillar in SHARE’S program. Working with indigenous partners, SHARE advocates using a position as shareholder to engage with companies and Corporations by exercising voting rights to advocate for indigenous rights.
The Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative (RRII) works to help build a vibrant indigenous economy and supports indigenous investors in prudent management of their communities’ financial resources consistent with their values. SHARE works to influence corporate policy and operational activities involving indigenous peoples, their lands and resources.
Maryholme Spirituality Centre - Sisters in Spirit Memorial Cairn
The Sisters in Spirit memorial cairn was built and blessed in 2004 with each stone in memory of a missing or murdered aboriginal woman or girl. The ritual and site were prepared in collaboration with the First Nations people from Manitoulin and Georgina Islands and sponsored by the Anglican, Catholic, and United Churches of Keswick and Sutton, Hospice Georgina, and the Loretto Sisters. In recent years, a medicine wheel was planted near Blackbird log cabin built by two local indigenous men. Both sites allow reflection and education on the need for justice and reconciliation and a relationship built on deep
Toronto Justice Circle Photo Exhibit: “Dispossessed but Defiant” at Mary Ward Centre (Feb 24 – Mar 6, 2020) This photo exhibition of 72 panels depicts the history of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, the Palestinians, the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the victims of Apartheid in South Africa. The photos all bear witness to a dark history of people who stand united to have truth spoken, wrongs made right, and access to the opportunity to live with dignity. The exhibition examined different aspects of indigenous peoples’ experiences of dispossession, and their inspiring struggles to resist these processes.
The aim of the exhibit is to inform and spur action on the dismantling of unjust structures of culture, economy and politics by effecting a transformation of mind and heart in viewers.