An initiative that began as a temporary project to honour Indigenous children found in unmarked graves, will soon serve as a permanent reminder of the need to keep moving forward with truth and reconciliation.
Following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools this summer, Indigenous artist NisoMakwa quietly began tying hundreds of orange ribbons around the walking trails of Bracebridge Bay in an act of remembrance for the forgotten children. The movement was taken up by others and eventually some 6,000 orange ribbons were tied throughout the Bay area.
Those ribbons were eventually removed by dozens of volunteers as part of a ceremony in late October and stored.
Teresa Buker of the Muskoka Indigenous Friendship Centre helped organize the event. She appeared during the latest Bracebridge general committee meeting to discuss the future of these ribbons.
She started by thanking the Town and NisoMakwa.
“At any time he could have been stopped and charged,” she said. “Thank you for not stopping this brave young man.”
Buker said even if it was only temporary it was a reminder of the great harm done to the Canadian Indigenous population.
“Now what? Do we just move on and forget? No,” said Buker. “We can’t continue to hide from the truth anymore.”
Buker said quilting has long been a large part of Indigenous culture and she would like to see the ribbons incorporated into a “truth and reconciliation” quilt. She said displaying a quilt permanently somewhere in Bracebridge would go a long way towards keeping the conversation going.
Buker said they could use any assistance and guidance the Town could provide, as well as the help of any quilting groups, or anyone who might be interested in helping with the quilt.
Mayor Graydon Smith thanked Buker for all of her efforts and said council would do whatever they could to advance truth and reconciliation in the community.
The project was referred to the Town’s Public Art Advisory Committee.
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