Apologies, Letters, and More: A Catch-up with DWF

Between the many headlines surrounding the Pope’s visit and the opening of new Legacy Spaces, there is plenty of news to catch up on. Check out all that DWF has been up to as well as some Indigenous perspectives on recent events below.

In the News

Pope Francis’ recent visit to Canada and apology to Indigenous communities have garnered significant attention. During this complex and emotional time, it is vital that we center Indigenous perspectives and experiences as we reflect on the visit. Here are a few pieces to help kick off your reading:

A Post-Apology ‘To Do’ List, Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, The Tyee, July 26, 2022

I survived the ’60s Scoop. Here’s why the Pope’s apology isn’t an apology at all, Lori Campbell, Associate Vice President, Indigenous Engagement, University of Regina, The Conversation, July 26, 2022

A ‘Walk Together’ or an ‘Erasure Tour’?, Erin Blondeau, Métis mother from Red River Settlement, The Tyee, July 25, 2022

‘Sorry’ isn’t enough, NTI president says of Pope’s apology, Aluki Kotierk, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Nunantsiaq News, July 26, 2022

Pope’s apology doesn’t acknowledge church’s role as ‘co-author’ of dark chapter: Murray Sinclair, Rachel Bergen, CBC News, July 26, 2022

How the Vatican encouraged the colonization of Indigenous lands – and enabled the Crown to keep them, Patrick White, The Globe and Mail, July 22, 2022

The last week has been challenging for many Survivors, families and those impacted by the effects of residential schools. Please know that support is available by calling the 24-hour national Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Letters to the Wenjacks

Legacy School students who attended DWF’s National Indigenous Peoples Day event in Toronto wrote letters to the Wenjack sisters after hearing them speak and meeting with them.

Throughout the year, we encourage Legacy Schools to write to the Wenjacks to share their experiences and understanding of Chanie’s story and the Secret Path. Chanie’s sister, Pearl, does her best to respond to all the letters that are sent, and is working on documenting her memories of Chanie to share with our Legacy Schools.

Here are some excerpts from the letters:

“It was terrible what happened to Chanie and so many others.” – Kate

“Thank you for sharing your story. I know it must have been hard to speak about it, which makes me appreciate it even more. It was very enlightening and meaningful to me. I hope you keep raising awareness for everyone. I wish you all the best.” – Lauren

Philip Cote’s Ojibway Dreamer

Three generations of Wenjacks are joined by Gord’s brother, Patrick Downie, in a visit to the public Legacy Space inside the Scotiabank branch at 392 Bay Street in Toronto. The Legacy Space features Philip Cote’s mural entitled, ‘Ojibway Dreamer’, which is a tribute to Chanie Wenjack.

Kyra Visitor is Chanie Wenjack’s great-niece. At 12 years old, she is the same age that Chanie was when he started his journey home from residential school. In June, Kyra travelled with her mom, Harriet Visitor, her Kokum Daisy Monroe, and two more of Chanie’s sisters, Evelyn Baxter and Pearl Achneepineskum, to visit the public Legacy Space inside the Scotiabank branch located at 392 Bay Street in Toronto.

Inside the Legacy Space, DWF Artist Ambassador Philip Cote created a large-scale mural of Chanie and the Seven Fires Prophecy. The painting shows Chanie’s role in becoming part of the Eighth Fire. Philip Cote explains that Chanie’s role is in the “healing needed to help bring heart thinking, and how we all must leave a legacy for future generations” (Indigenous Toronto, 2021).

Philip shares more about this painting in the new book, Indigenous Toronto. Elaine Bomberry, the Coordinator of DWF’s Artist Ambassador program, is also featured in the book with a touching story about how her parents met on a streetcar in Toronto!

Legacy Spaces Updates

The first Manulife Legacy Space features a unique mural collaboration between two DWF Artist Ambassadors.

On June 29th, Manulife launched their first Legacy Space inside their Waterloo office. The event featured members of their Employee Resource Group called “Indigenous Peoples and Their Allies”, food from Pow Wow Cafe, and words from DWF President & CEO, Sarah Midanik. The Legacy Space features a unique mural collaboration between DWF Artist Ambassadors Patrick Hunter and Blake Angeconeb. They plan to open a Toronto Legacy Space later this year!

Learn more about the Legacy Spaces program