Inspired in the studio this afternoon by the sights and sounds of the Pacific Spirit Park from this morning’s walk: the music of the wind swaying the trees above and the rustling of myriads of falling leaves in the rain alighting on the trails and woodland floor below.
I couldn’t help but be inspired by the privilege of experiencing such precious moments as these.
One year ago I began my drawing of the 546 leaves I had collected that day from the Pacific Spirit Park after learning about the children who had been so cruelly separated from their parents at the US border. In the following few weeks we learnt, as my daily drawings continued, how many more separated children there were. Sadly, as of today too many of these children have yet to be reunited with their parents.
In May of this year the remains of 215 children were discovered in unmarked graves in the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Reservation School, children who were never given any opportunity of being reunited with their parents and families. And so began the discovery of generations of children buried in unmarked graves of Indian Reservation Schools across the country in this sad chapter of Canadian history, a chapter that continues today through the vital and heartbreaking process of Truth and Reconciliation.
My 215 leaves today are in memory of all the beautiful children who are being grieved and remembered by their families and communities everywhere. They were very much in our thoughts yesterday as we walked in the Pacific Spirit Park on a rainy Friday with so many beautiful fallen leaves carpeting the trails and woods around us.
On this 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation our thoughts all day have been of the generations of children who died alone, away from their families whilst attending Indian Reservation Schools here in BC and across the country, together with thoughts of their families, those who survived, and all the communities still grieving this unbearable legacy every day.
We began the day walking the trails of the Pacific Spirit Park, the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. The orange shirts we wore were designed by the Tsimshian artist Morgan Asoyuf. Thank you Morgan.
From the trails we joined so many others at the Vancouver Art Gallery and were moved by the powerful and heartbreaking display on the Gallery steps together with the sight of 6,128 orange ribbons placed in the gardens opposite by the Haida artist Tamara Bell to honour and remember the lives of all the children lost at the residential schools. We then joined many hundreds of others in the Gallery Square and hope the love and support shown by us all will help in the healing and ease so much of the pain we witnessed today.
From the Gallery to the studio and a painting to honor this special day.
From that beach in Tunisia all those years ago to the Sword Fern Trail in the Pacific Spirit Park, as we celebrate our 47th Wedding Anniversary today after a week of pure joy and love with all the family, and feeling like the luckiest parents and grandparents in all the world.
Once again this year, unable to gather for the Annual Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis, we walked in the Pacific Spirit Park today in memory of Jodi and all those who are bravely suffering from these debilitating diseases.
And as we walked our thoughts were also of dear friends who are grieving today; and of the 215 children whose remains were so recently found in the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, knowing that so many more remain to be discovered. Viewed from the trail we were walking on orange shirts could be seen in their memory placed all along South West Marine Drive.
Walking in the Pacific Spirit Park yesterday my thoughts were of the 215 children whose remains have just been discovered buried on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These children, some as young as three, were taken from families across British Columbia who they never saw again and died often far from home and were then never accounted for.
What a tragic, shameful and heartbreaking part of our Canadian history. On Friday, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) said it mourned alongside the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. “There are no words to express the deep mourning that we feel as First Nations people, and as survivors, when we hear an announcement like this,” wrote Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC. “Today we honour the lives of those children, and hold prayers that they, and their families, may finally be at peace.”
I send my heartfelt condolences to all the families and ask that you to keep the memory of these beautiful lost children in your thoughts as they will always be in mine.
Four special moments from the Pacific Spirit Park, Vancouver today on our National Physicians Day here in Canada, a day for me to say thank you to all of my amazing colleagues who have worked so hard this past difficult year together with all of our frontline heroes. I am in awe of them all.
The sun broke through on our walk this morning in the Pacific Spirit Park illuminating these beautiful young maple leaves as we remember Sub.Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough and her five co-Canadian Armed Forces crew members, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Captain Kevin Hagen and Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, all lost when their helicopter came down in the Ionian sea a year ago today.