Friday was a hard day. I learned of two separate, yet connected, tragedies that made an otherwise good day difficult. To say my heart is heavy is an understatement.
Trigger Warning: death, suicide, murder, residential schools
Horrible news for First Nations
The first bad news to come in the day was the story that the bodies of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The former school is on the lands of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation, but the children could be from almost any First Nation in Canada, as children were often moved around to keep them from their families.
I first began learning about the atrocities committed at residential schools when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released their findings in 2015. Over the next year or two, I attended workshops, lectures, and events to honour those who had been harmed, and killed, by the practices meant to “kill the Indian in the child”. I also read books, and watched films and documentaries to educate myself.
Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children was an education system in name only for much of its existence. These residential schools were created for the purpose of separating Aboriginal children from their families, in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into a new culture—the culture of the legally dominant Euro-Christian Canadian society, led by Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The schools were in existence for well over 100 years, and many successive generations of children from the same communities and families endured the experience of them. That experience was hidden for most of Canada’s history, until Survivors of the system were finally able to find the strength, courage, and support to bring their experiences to light in several thousand court cases that ultimately led to the largest class-action lawsuit in Canada’s history.Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Let me be clear: this practice harmed GENERATIONS of First Nations and Metis peoples. It isn’t ancient history. The last residential school didn’t close until 1996. You read that right – the last “school” only closed 25 years ago. The ripple effects of lost culture, language, and family ties will be felt for generations yet to come. It also didn’t just happen in Canada. There were similar facilities across the United States as well.
Silent no more
I honor the courage and vulnerability of those survivors who first came forward to share their stories of abuse and mistreatment. I honor the pain and strength that keeps others silent.
The discovery in Kamloops is another opportunity for the truth to come out, as well as an opportunity for healing to begin. All of the other properties need to be similarly searched, so that the children who have been missing for so long can finally be found. I hope that their souls are able to finally be at peace.
I am not First Nations, but my husband and children are Metis. I live in a community blessed with three First Nations bands, and am honoured to have several close friends in these Nations, and others. Even so, I cannot begin to think I understand the pain that is rippling through this community. I mourn along side them, and send healing to the families and survivors.
The other bad news I received this past week hit a lot closer to home. Friday evening, I learned that my dear friend Katana had committed suicide.
I met Katana in 2008 at a Millionaire Mind Intensive. I got to know her better later that year at another Peak Potentials event called All My Relations. We connected over personal development, and grew together spiritually.
Katana was my first, and longest, life coaching client. I had the honor to witness and hold space for some of her most intense ups and downs, and her amazing dreams. We traded for art – she did most of the covers for my guided meditations, as well as a lot of other art for my site.
We also were collaborating on a tarot deck, which sadly now will never be completed.
My heart is heavy
The weight of grief from learning of these events the same day is immense. Katana was also First Nations, and I know that she would have been outraged. She would have had something to say, spurring us on to action.
I say my heart is heavy because it feels like a weight on my chest, and also because I refuse to say my heart is breaking. My heart is strong, and my love is wide. Instead of breaking, it expands with more love and compassion. I feel the channel of healing inside me open up to send more healing out to those in pain.
Katana talked about opening up an angel portal. She made some incredible paintings in the last several months, including this beautiful mural in her home. Katana, I love you, and I will miss you, and your gift of art, tremendously. I open myself to the angels to bring more love and healing to this world.