Did you notice? ? There is an orange heart in some of our Browser Page Titles. Why?
It is to remind us of a very dark time and horrific practices in very recent Canadian history. It is to remind us that every child matters, that in fact, every life matters. It is to remind us that there is no reason or justification EVER to discriminate against one group of people based on their race or heritage. There is no justifiation for cultural genocide.
The Canadian government funded a network of residential (boarding) schools exclusively for indigenous children aged 4-16 in most Canadian Provinces. The Catholic church and some other Christian churches were responsible for running the schools and educating the children. Attendance was not voluntary.
Essentially, children were taken by force from their home, their parents, their families, their communities, their culture... their entire support system and dropped into a strict, authoritarian setting where they were then 're-educated'. This meant, they were forbidden from using their own language, even their given name, visiting their families, and everything that had had meaning in their familiar cultural upbringing was stripped away, all in an effort to assimilate them into the rest of Canadian society.
Duncan Campbell Scott, a civil servant involved with Indian Affairs stated in 1920: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone. . . . Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.”
Children subjected to residential schools were to have the 'indian' removed and to feel ashamed of their heritage. To make matters even worse, many were abused; physically, sexually, and emotionally. And many never made it out alive. They perished and were buried, often in unmarked graves. Over 6000, that we know of, thus far. They died from disease, abuse, and suicide.
So... the Orange Heart is to remind us that we (collectively) have an obligation to protect and advocate for every child. To remind us, that this must not EVER happen again. To remind us that just because an order is given or a bill is passed by our legistature, it is not to be accepted without questioning its purpose, its morals, its effects on our fellow men, women, and children; orders are never to be followed blindly, and none of us have the right to impose our beliefs, ideologies, or way of life on anyone else - ever. It is to remind us that we have a voice and we need to speak up when we KNOW that something is terribly wrong or, even when we are not sure but our gut feeling says so.
I was born, raised, and educated in Northern Germany. I did not learn about Indian Residential School until a few years ago, even though I have lived in Canada for over 30 years now. My country of birth has its own dark past. My heart aches for every child who became a pawn in the struggle for money, power, or politics. My heart aches for every parent who lost their child. My heart aches for every human who was or is at the receiving end of racicm, segregation, hatred, or who has suffered at the hands of others while those who bore witness just didn't care enough and looked the other way.
? I will not forget. I will not look the other way.