On Friday our family wears orange. You can't compare pain and hurt like the one our people endured in the Residential Schools. You only have to ask someone in the community about the abuse that the schools caused, and each one could name 3 or 4 elders, uncles, or grandmas that endured the horrid pain. My mother never ended up in the schools but instead spent her years in the foster care system. When she was 9, she came downstairs looking for her brother, who lived in the home with her. The response to her inquiry, was simply "Your brother's been adopted and you will never see him again."
How does healing begin in a community that is still looked upon with such judgment and racism? Even growing up as the "lonely Indian", I never shared my Metis heritage. Because you don't tell people you're "mixed"; my mother made sure of that. We only shared our Cherokee roots. I remember though, even then, the shame behind my culture in school and the mocking names people would give me when I would share small pieces of my culture and of my community even though, for the most part, I looked like a white girl. And once I shared my Aboriginal background, their faces changed and hardened slightly, as if they weren't surprised that I was from an alcoholic single-parent family.
So much healing has to happen. The elders that taught, and continue to teach us, never share their anger like I expected they would. Only healing. Desperate to heal their community from the abuse that has since manifested into failed relationships, addictions and suicide.
So, as the lonely Indian girl that watched her family suffer from abuse, that looked in the eyes of people whose pain was so frightening from the memories of the schools, we stand. We wear orange shirts together. We will recollect and hope for the generations to come. But we won't forget. We honor the courage and spirits of those who endured the schools. And teach our children of the healing that will come.