This year’s commemorations at Cambrian College were organized by the Wabnode Centre for Indigenous Services, the Cambrian Indigenous Student Circle, the Circle for Indigenous Education, and the Wellness Committee.
A key highlight of this year’s ceremonies was the blessing of two hand-carved statues of parents holding their children.
“These statues were recently rediscovered in Greater Sudbury after being abandoned for many years,” explains Ron Sarazin, Director of Wabnode Indigenous Services at Cambrian College. “They were offered to Wabnode so that we could bring them home to a final resting place of honour. The journey home of these is a powerful metaphor for the lives and deaths of the more than one thousand children whose remains were discovered this past summer in mass, unmarked graves at residential schools across Canada. These statues will be an ongoing reminder that these children need to be brought to a final resting place of honour.”
The ceremonies also featured a Path to Kindness and Reconciliation, organized by the college’s Wellness Committee. Approximately 1,000 orange hearts with messages from students and employees were placed in the ground to form a 500-metre pathway from BarryDowne Road to the college’s Sacred Fire Arbour. The messages contain personal reflections and acknowledgement of what happened to Indigenous children, communities and culture due to colonization. True reconciliation cannot happen without it.
“The Path to Kindness and Reconciliation is the Wellness Committee’s gesture towards reconciliation with all Indigenous students, staff and community members,” explains Catherine Poulton, Cambrian’s Wellness Coordinator. “Education of both true reconciliation and providing opportunities for the cultural knowledge that has been lost to be reintroduced will benefit all of us.”
“We want our Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and elders to know that we stand with them as they continue to process how their lives have been impacted by the residential schools and we want them to see that support and read the words of encouragement that have been written,” adds Jessica Chapados Duchesne, President of the Cambrian Indigenous Student Circle.
A smudging ceremony was also held in the Sacred Fire Arbour. Those participating were asked to share their own reflections on the day.
Cambrian’s employees and students were asked to use the day to learn more about Canada’s residential school system, the Truth and Reconciliation process including 94 recommendations for healing, and what they can do personally to support truth and reconciliation.
“We all have a duty and obligation as leaders in our community to assist in Truth and Reconciliation” adds Cambrian College President, Bill Best. “This is an important time for our college to reflect and learn together.”
The Wabnode Centre for Indigenous Services at Cambrian College supports Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit students in their transition to college life, helping to keep a connection to their community and culture throughout their college journey.
Photo: The blessing of two hand-carved statues of parents holding their children and a Kindness Pathway to Truth and Reconciliation with 1,000 messages of support were part of Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies at Cambrian College. Photo provided by Cambrian College and used with permissions.