Every Child Matters: Truth Telling & Healing for the People & the Land
Praise and gratitude to our Grandfather Sun for the stunning fall day for Friday’s Every Child Matters Commemorative Ceremony in Tollkeeper’s Park on September 30th. Well over 100 people joined members of the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group and Community History Project to honour Indian Residential School victims and survivors; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, 2-Spirit, and Trans People and their families and communites; and all those impacted by “child welfare” policies that continue to break up families and communities.
People waited patiently as Elder Catherine Brooks sorted out a new order of Ceremony as both former Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Carolyn King, and the 416 Singers, Drum, and Dancers were delayed by other events. In the end, all went well, with a dedication of the Park as the 3rd National Healing Forests greenspace in Toronto by volunteer “Tollkeepers;” an acknowledgement of their founder, Jane Beecroft, who passed a year ago; and an introduction to members of her family.
Elder Catherine opened the Ceremony that followed the introductory remarks by saluting the Four Directions, and recognizing that people from the Four Directions were present in the Circle. She shared both the painful history of children being taken from their families in past generations and the current statistics that show far too many Indigenous children in foster homes, and equally estranged from their culture and traditions.
Participants were gifted Tobacco or Sage to hold close to their hearts in prayer, both during Elder Catherine’s reflection and during the Drumming and Dancing that followed. Lead 416 Singer, Isaiah Cada, spoke of the Drum as the heartbeat of the Earth, while his cousin, a Grass Dancer, led a traditional entry for the Dancers. Nichole Leveck and she and Isaiah’s gender fluid child, Indiana, offered Jingle Dances for healing; Nazarene Pope danced Fancy Shawl, a dance rooted in the Intertribal Pow Wows of the last century that created new traditions while keeping old traditions alive.
As the Ceremony drew to a close, we followed Nichole and Indiana as they released Tobacco to the Earth and to the Sacred Fire, then found our way down to a table filled with Chef Charles Catchpole’s Bannock and Cedar Tea, and a basket of seeds and seedlings to take away. A Red-Tailed Hawk, Elder Catherine’s Clan animal, circled overhead.