How the Project Came to be
Updated: Mar 11, 2022
“They Were the Seeds” Project - Creating a Garden of Hope
After the discovery of the unmarked graves in Kamloops last spring, I was at a loss as to how to process the atrocities that happened in those institutions. So I planted a sweetgrass garden and surrounded it with dozens of bright orange plastic flowers. It became my place to honour those that never made it home and the thousands who were impacted by these institutions. I prayed for all the children who never heard the words “I love you” from their parents because they were taken away. I prayed for the parents whose worlds must have shattered when their children were literally torn from their arms. I prayed that these children being recovered would be the ones who could finally bring about healing, because now the truth was finally being revealed in a way that could no longer be denied.
I kept hearing the words, “They were the seeds…” But then as more and more graves became uncovered, it seemed as though we were just tallying lives and forgetting that these were children, each life representing precious medicines lost to the world. I wanted to do something more to commemorate the lives lost and I started to think about the garden. There are thousands of flowers growing on these lands, each unique in its contribution to the whole. What if every child found could be represented by a flower? What if one orange flower was beaded for every child recovered?
I have been influenced by the work of Trent Alumni Dr. Lana Ray (2018) who used beading as a methodology to demonstrate how it strengthens multidimensional relationships and plays a role in “transmitting cultural knowledge” (Ray, 364). Beading can be seen as a metaphor for Indigenous resurgence, a way to counteract the Western narrative that marginalizes Indigenous knowledge systems and diminishes their significance (365). Participants will be introduced to the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address and will explore the Anishinaabe concept of living with a good mind, or Mino-Bimaadiziwin. They will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of living in balance with all of creation and will hopefully gain insight into ways of enacting gratitude in our daily lives.
My goal for this project is to represent each child with a beaded orange flower and to have them all become part of a larger mural/ art installation that will be showcased at locations to be determined. Beading has become part of my healing journey with cancer, bringing me joy and also redirecting my energy when I’m feeling lost or depleted. This project is versatile in that it can be presented to pre-service teachers, schools, community organizations and is an opportunity for people to gather and learn from each other.
While some funding has been generously provided by the Symons Trust for Canadian Studies, I will continue to find other sources to support this project so that it can be offered to participants with minimal financial cost to a person or organization / institution. The cost is $4 per kit, all materials are purchased form indigenous vendors / merchants. If interested in running a workshop, we can see where funding is to be able to have it covered or we can arrange a cost. All money paid will go directly to the materials needed to complete the workshop, there will be NO facilitating fee!
These workshops are being offered to any individual / organization / institution interested in taking small steps towards establishing authentic relationships with each other and creating a healthy space to discuss how we can move forward to build a better world for future generations.