Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day One Hundred Sixty Seven: For the Child Taken, For the Parent Left Behind

Purple clover, green chokecherry buds, white Saskatoon flowers, purple martin hotels. The morning is sunshine and beauty.  As I walk past the Governance Centre I see people gathering on the lawn after the morning pipe ceremony.

I am organizing my papers for the morning field trip, checking attendance, when I hear my phone ringing. My girls have slept in, missed the bus.

"Get walking," I say. "I can't get away, and Daddy's busy."

"But Mom."

"Nope. You'll have to walk."

Constable Muirhead leads the students and me out of the parking lot. Two boys are carrying the sign which Sue Bland made for us: It Matters 2 Me. Same drill as yesterday, off to the Truth and Reconciliation Hearing at the Governance Centre.

As we pass the Coop Card Lock and Cement Yard, I see two little dots on the road near the bridge. The dots have legs and are walking closer. There are my girls, half an hour late for school and growing later. Even though they are mid-punishment-walk, I am proud of my girls, happy to see them along the path. Moira sticks her tongue out at me. Arwen shows me yellow and white flowers she's picked, offers me the white ones. I take my girls' picture.

As we enter the Governance Centre I give Agnes Dustyhorn a letter I've written for Justice Sinclair as well as a hand-written note saying the name of our school, as he had asked me to do yesterday, so that he could introduce us when we come in. Balcarres is using all the gallery seating, so I gather my students, trying to convince them to sit on the main floor, in the centre where there are seats. Kim Delorme asks our students to carry the sign and enter the chamber. The kids are shy, but we do. We are introduced and the entire gathering is clapping for us. Justice Sinclair continues his words, an explanation of the connection between Residential Schools and many of our country's social challenges.

In the morning and again in the afternoon, we listen to survivors' tell their stories. One of the organizers comes and gets our banner and props it against the main banner at the front: "It Matters 2 Me" against the Truth and Reconciliation motto "For the Child Taken, For the Parent Left Behind." As I listen to stories of the child taken, of the parents left behind, I think of my own girls, I think about myself as a parent. The tears roll.

At the end of the morning and afternoon, Aggie takes us out to a tipi and leads us through a talking circle. It feels good to sit in the shade of the canvas on the green grass and listen to these young voices. It's still a beautiful day, as one of the elders shared he knew it would be when he saw the sun this morning. He knew there would be tears today, but he also knew we would go home with lighter spirits, child and parent alike.

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