That circle became a dreamcatcher, connecting each person there as they listened to the teachings from Anishinaabek/Ojibway artist, William Morin.
The rally was hosted by Morin and Myths and Mirrors Community Arts, planned in response to calls from many Indigneous groups to cancel or or change the way Canada Day is honoured. The discovery of more than a thousand remains in residential schools across the country has heated the discussion surrounding the colonial aspects of Canada, and muted the desire to celebrate.
Several large cities in Canada cancelled their Canada Day plans altogether, including Sudbury. In the past, an event was held at Science North, sponsored by the City of Sudbury. The already-filmed virtual event was cancelled on June 29, and a statement read that the organizers wished to “stand alongside Indigenous Peoples.”
Morin told Sudbury.com prior to the event that he was planning to show each and every participant just how interconnected the world is by weaving them together in a dreamcatcher. At the event itself, he described the interconnection much more plainly. “If one person pees in the water, we’re all drinking pee,” said Morin. You can read the full dreamcatcher teaching here.
He not only weaved an enormous dreamcatcher with cord that stretched the length and width of the courtyard, but gave teachings as he did. The teachings were of language, of history and of the things that non-indigenous people do not consider because, as he said, it has been hidden from them.
While the cord was woven by Morin and two assistants, each person within the circle was given the opportunity to speak into a megaphone, stating their reasons for attending or their hopes for change.
Many spoke of their wish to have known more about the colonial history of Canada and the residential schools.
Others shared family history, stories of those who went to the residential schools and who suffered their whole life for it. There were also many prayers for the children of the schools who died there and whose remains are still being uncovered.
One woman spoke simply. ““I have three words, Land back now.”
When the megaphone was passed to her, Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma, Manitoulin and Kapuskasing chose to speak. There with her 9-year-old grandson, Hughes called on the federal government to stop battling Indigenous children and survivors in court. “They have a duty to make sure that these archaic laws are done,” said Hughes. “And they have a duty to make sure that justice is served.”Nadia Verrelli, the acclaimed NDP federal candidate for Sudbury, agreed with Hughes when she spoke to Sudbury.com. Verrelli said it was “our duty as humans” to search for answers, and “to demand that governments begin to do something. We need to learn about them and begin honouring them.”
Andrew Kendall, who was there with partner Erin, said it is important to acknowledge Canada’s history, but also it’s present. “That's why it's important for these types of events to be acknowledged by Canadians and white folks like us. To take this time to learn and listen, but also take concrete action to move forward in good ways.”
Ciara Hemalin, a 14-year-old in attendance with Denise Leclair, said she recently began hearing about residential schools.”I noticed there were a lot of residential schools and that was a very big issue and that people looked away from it. We can’t hide the fact that it was a genocide.”
Leclair is a teacher and someone who says when she was taught history, it was different. “ I'm old enough to know that when I was taught history, we weren't taught about residential schools. We were taught John A. Macdonald and not the colonisation,” said Leclair. “I think people need to be aware of the real, what actually happened. You can't hide it.”
Participants listened to Morin's teachings as the dreamcatcher was completed and when they finally placed the finished dreamcatcher down, Morin reminded attendees that their job wasn’t done. Each person was to take these teachings with them, take the dreamcatcher with them, and interconnect with every part of the world.