Every Child Matters Sept 30, 2022

As we remember the Indigenous children who passed, as well as the victims and their families who are still suffering today. We Honour Them.


We thank Catherine Villeneuve, Hontsiaweń: Ta Wakenia: Ton, Mi’kmaq, Acadia First Nation for sharing knowledge and ways to honour Indigenous children who passed, as well as the victims and their families who are still suffering today.


“When my husband and I take part in ceremonies, often we bring candies to remember and honour those young ones who are in the spirit world.  Children love candies, whether they are here in the physical or on the other side.  The candies can be either offered to a sacred fire, to reach those spirits, or be consumed by the living.  If the candies are consumed by the living, it is done in a mindful and prayerful way, with the intent of honouring these spirits.  For OSA, I could suggest a dish of candies be placed at reception with a message explaining the reason for its presence, and that people be encouraged to eat them.

For victims and their families; I would say, if one is fortunate enough to be in the presence of these people and they wish to share their stories of how residential schools affected their lives, or the lives of their families, honour them by listening to them with a good heart and a good mind.  Listen to their stories.  I could also make a suggestion that people could make a personal commitment to learn more about the true history of all First Nation people across Turtle Island. 

I still know so little, but I’m committed to learning all I can.   I remember Grandfather William Commanda use to say, “This is what I know, and all of this is what I need to learn”.

So, to answer your question; honour them, everyday, but especially today.


Anyone can go online and read about Phyllis Webstad or listen to her tell her story and I encourage everyone to do so. 

Phyllis is from “SHU EP-EM HU-LUC”, [sic], land of the “SHU-SHUA”, [sic], people, in Williams Lake B.C.  She is a third generation Indian Residential School survivor.  Both her grandmother and mother attended residential school.  Phyllis lived with her grandmother and, at 6 years of age, it was mandatory for her to attended the St. Joseph Mission residential school.  Her grandmother purchased a vibrant orange shirt, chosen by Phyllis, which she was excited to wear it on her first day of school, but on her first day, her treasured new shirt was stripped from her and no matter how much she cried and wanted it back, no one would listen and it was not given back to her. She never saw her shirt again.   

The memories of that shirt being taken away and the lack of caring by those in that school stopped Phyllis from wanting to wear the colour orange for a long, long time, as it would trigger memories of her time in the Mission school.

Phyllis told her story for the first time in April of 2013 when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came to Williams Lake.  Those involved with the event decided to honour the orange shirt as a symbol of the affects of residential school and so “Orange Shirt Day” along with the message of “Every Child Matters” came to be.

I encourage everyone to check out the You Tube “Orange Shirt Day” video by Phyllis Webstad.


Folks need to hear and understand the truth about the history of First Nation, Métis and Inuit People.  They need to recognize, we were not “Savages”.  My ancestors, the Wabanaki, “people of the dawn”, lived and lived well.  They lived in balance with nature, taking only what was needed for survival.  They hunted, they fished, they gathered, they learned wisdom from those older than them selves and from the lands and the waters; they loved, and they loved their children; they were a strong and proud people who worked hard.  They were not “lazy Indians”.  How could a people survive for thousands of years by being “lazy”?   No, indeed, when your heritage, your culture, your language is taken from you; when your people are corralled and herded onto small areas of land to live without being able to practice your ceremonies and traditional ways of life.  When your people are subjected to acts of genocide by the government and religious groups.  After generations of having lost everything, your rights, your freedoms, your ability to take care of yourself and your family in the ways that have been done for a millennium.  When you all but break under the oppression, well then yeah, I guess those outsiders, ignorant of the truth, could look on in judgment and say “those lazy Indians, they’re a problem”.

Today, I have to be hopeful and indeed, I am hopeful because more and more light is being shed on the past.  There is an ever-growing awareness of the true narrative of our history and although a tremendous amount of work remains to be done to recognize and put right the damage that’s been done, I feel we’re slowly taking steps in that direction.  Nearly 7 generations brought us to this point and I pray it doesn’t take 7 generations to right the wrongs that have been done to First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people.

This is my perspective on what Truth and Reconciliation looks like as a Mi’kmaq woman.”

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