By Justin Seward
Seven Persons School students participated in The Remembering Stone Project last week as a way of remembering the 215 childrens’ remains that were found buried at a Residential School in Kamloops last month.
The project saw students paint hopeful messages and nature on rocks they brought to school with them and hung them up on the fence beside the school to represent each indigenous kid’s life that was lost.
“I thought it was really cool because I’ve actually never done anything like this before,” said Leah Jetter, Grade 9 student.
“Like I knew about Residential Schools. But our teacher showed us slideshows and explained it a little bit more to us. I got to take that knowledge (and) put it in (to) create these rocks.”
Jetter drew a lake, tree, mountains, bushes and a heart on her rock because she thought it resembles what the indigenous people had lived in the northern region and looking into the Northern Lights.
“I remember the lady (Sandra Lamouche), hoop dancer who presented to the school on June 17) was talking and she said her ancestors, like after they passed, she said they would look up into the Northern Lights and see them there,” said Jetter.
Jetter added, “It was eye opening to see that people were treated like that and we don’t want that anymore.”
Charles Thompson is in Grade 9 and said during the project it was cool to learn about Residential Schools and how it affects First Nations today and how the problems are still ongoing in the government.
“We as a community need to address them,” said Thompson.
Thompson drew a nice nature scene with a pine tree with little clouds in the background and a bear on the other side.
“It’s just kind of to remember that Canada is a beautiful place and everybody should get to enjoy it,” he said.
“The First Nations should get to enjoy their type of life; we should get to enjoy ours.”
Spiritual elders Charlie Fox and Ross Black Water made the trip from Kainai Nation in Standoff, Alta., to chat with the students about the residential system on June 17.
“They painted those rocks from their own artistic ability,” said Fox.
“I see that as a really good thing given from the heart to be able to do something like that. For us it’s a good feeling for people to understand what we’ve gone through.”
Project organizer Kelly Thomson felt the project was important because it was a way for everyone to deal with the sense of shock and grieving.
“Everybody thought it was beautiful,” said Thomson.
“Yesterday (June 16), the wind was blowing and the ribbons were blowing this way into the classroom and it just so pretty and bright. It’s going to stay up there as long as the ribbons hold the weather.”