National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Community members wishing to honour residential school survivors and those who didn’t make it home have sent in the amazing words, images, and songs below for us all to appreciate.

Blair Faichney & Jamie Whitford

Every Child Matters

Written by Blair Faichney & Jamie Whitford.



Bizzy Dat boy

See they were kids with a dream,
it’s hard to believe that they were stripped from the scene,
the RCMP they won’t admit it’s unclean, the truth of the fact it was approved from the queen,
so tell me what is wrong with the world it’s so sick I could hurl,
the government took so many little boys & girls,
& they made em quit their culture mom & dad is alone,
how would u feel if your kids were, taking from our home,
I shed tears for the ones that died for the ones that got raped And for the ones that cried,
brainwashed to praise a white spirit in the sky,
don’t wanna hear another lie,
They try to beat the native pride out Indigenous,
The priest be the sinister, We need to lock them up so at least they’re a prisoner, there’s over 6000 kids that never made it home, every child matters & were making it known,

We were kids, who had someone,
We were kids, that spoke our tongue,
We were kids, that had a choice,
Till…We were taken from our homes.


It’s crazy isn’t it, how much blood spilt by the innocent one hundred and fifty thousand coulda lived witout the sinister life of the ministers 80 thousand survivors still 70 thousand missing

where is the urgency to find out the murder scene they too scared to talk cause what they found sure wasn’t clean
This sorta thing was set up to kill the Indian
ran by the government the church brought the villains in

so many generations lost it’s just sickening
how could the RCMP not have a problem with lifting them ripping em away from everything they’ve ever known staring in their eyes as they were

All I seek is justice for all them little children cuz it seems like the world is too quiet on who killed them
I mean we talking bout kids do they mean nothing to you. Think about this, what are we going to do?

Can’t rely on the people who are suppose to be protecting us. Cuz they still committing crimes n trying to see the death of us there’s too much blood on they hands for this to just disappear they hid it for this long didn’t expect it to reappear.

Cecile Calliou

What the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation means to me in my words and through my eyes: Short Story.

In short, what Truth and Reconciliation means to me is the atrocity that occurred through Stripping of Identity by the Government and Church.

Some of the words that come through my mind is; ignorance, racism, genocide, marginalization, abuses, discrimination, impositions, injustices, lies, corruption, hurt, losses, oppression, addiction, suicide, displacement, neglect, violence, mistrust, greed, forced free labour, multigenerational impacts, and brainwashing,

Through the use of institutions; Indigenous CHILDREN all across Canada were taken or stolen from their families, their communities and placed into 140 different residential schools.

People or systems responsible for this atrocity are different denominational churches with the backing of the federal governments. The RCMP or the NWMP came in to remove the children from the ages of 4 or 5 yrs. of age and over.

Since the discovery of 215 unmarked children graves have been found in Kamloops Residential Schools. Investigations into other possible unmarked graves have discovered over 7,000 to date.

September 30th is a day set aside to acknowledge and honor the survivors and those children such as my late husband, mother, aunts, family and friends, and loved ones. And all those families that felt the repercussions of this generational impact that has affected so many of us.

My thoughts and feelings like most are such that the Truth is hard to take. Many of our own brainwashed people are in denial and don’t want to hear the Truth. And as far as reconciliation; I believe we need to trust in our own Traditional healing teaching ways left by our own people.

This year I attended a new Sundance at Blue Quills near St. Paul. As we turned into Blue Quills Residential School grounds it was eerie and it felt like the ghosts of the past were shouting out!

Days later, when we left the grounds just past the residential school, I felt good. We went to this Sundance (once banned by the law) for healing and prayers. Cree and Dene languages were spoken, there was a sense of family and community in this gathering. But the best part was “that we did it our way!” With kindness, cleansing, healing, understanding, and telling of the truth. And with Creator/God in our hearts.

Lena Gallup

Thank you to Fort McKay, Chief Mel, councillors, and organizers for the beautiful gathering honoring indigenous children who lost their lives in residential schools across Canada.
It brought back a lot of personal memories, even though 82 yrs have passed since the day my 2 dear sisters and I were taken away by the NWMP from our family and community abruptly without knowing where we were going and never to return, they still remain very vivid in my memory.

Grouard Residential School near High Prairie AB was our home for the next 13 plus years, at age 18 they put me on a bus with a one-way ticket to the big city of Edmonton to learn how to survive without any life skills, money, job training, family, to say the least, it was a terrifying struggle and some of my friends ended up as causalities of skid row and suicide. It all changed for the better when I left Edmonton and moved to Calgary.

Today at age 89 I’m back home in Fort McKay and very grateful for all my life’s accomplishments which include 4 very successful children/grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My life circle is complete, I’m where I wanna be with my little puppy “Wifi”, as the oldest Elder in Fort McKay receiving excellent care for the rest of my days.

Zoey Robinson

Aged 14

Holly Fortier

The history of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools and their legacy is seen through the eyes of a survivor and her daughter.

Jessica Valentine Sky Baker

Jessica wrote and performs this song about how intergenerational trauma can cause alcohol abuse in our younger generation.

Jean L’Hommecourt

Truth and Reconciliation

Truth is: I was merely a child of 6yrs, an innocent child that was being raised as a Denesuline Indigenous on Traditional Territory..

Truth is: I was stolen from my loving, caring, parents, who had no choice in the matter, nor would they be allowed to object, or face incarceration…

Truth is: I was stripped of my clothing and wraparound moccasins that was made and designed specifically for ME…

Truth is: My hair was cut short (mission style) and I was doused with chemicals that scalded my skin and burnt my eyes until I could not open them …

Truth is: I spoke only my First Nation Denesuline Language fluently when I was forcibly entered into the House of Horror called Holy Angels Residential…

Truth is: I knew I had siblings that I haven’t met or grown up with, I only heard about them after they were taken away also…

Truth is: After seeing and being with my parents on the Land in the first 2 or 3 summer seasons, I was left to remain in the Residential without seeing my parents for the next 3 years to come..

Truth is: My parents suffered the pain of leaving us as we returned for another year of suffering abuse, neglect, starvation, and fear, that they couldn’t endure the separation over and over…

Truth is: I couldn’t understand WHY this was happening to ME, US…

Truth is: It was forcibly instilled in me not to feel or display emotions of love, affection, or any kind of sense of self-worth…

Truth is: I was forcibly forbidden to speak my Dene language and was beaten, when I was caught or heard of speaking my first language…

Truth is: I ran away every chance I had, and now the scars remind me of those time…

Truth is: I blamed my parents for letting me go into that Residential so called School of Genocide…

Truth is: When I was discharged, we as children has no home structure to return to…

Truth is: I used Alcohol and Drugs to numb my past, thinking that it would erase the Genocide that I was subjected and thrown into…

Truth is: I passed onto my children the Residential Trauma Effects and they suffered the impacts as the 2nd intergenerational trauma effects…

Reconciliation for ME is: I forgave my parents for not being able to protect me from the Genocide of Residential, so called School, as I am now aware that they did the best they can with what little time we shared together on the Land, they gave me the strength through their Indigenous Knowledge and their oral history.

Reconciliation for ME is: I have made better choices to uplift my Spirit and Reconcile with the Child within ME.

Reconciliation for ME is: Taking back and Revitalizing my Dene Language and passing it on to the upcoming generations of my family.

Reconciliation for ME is: Working for a brighter future for the next 7 Generations through the Natural Laws of the Land, which include: Honesty, Humility, Respect, Courage, Strength, Compassion, and Perseverance.


Written by:
Jean L’Hommecourt


Moanique Faichney

Moanique sent us some of her bead work for our truth and reconciliation page.

Lorraine Bellerose

Still Here

By Lorraine Bellerose


Trying to be




Horrific atrocities afflicted

Full Circle – A journey of healing

by Lorraine Bellerose

A lot has happened and changed since I wrote “Full Circle” many years ago. 2021 has been a difficult year for so many. My mom lived in Edmonton for the past seven years but decided in June that she wanted to be with her people which meant moving back to Ft McKay. She was there less than a week when she had a stroke. A cancer diagnosis followed shortly after.
The first time I went to Treaty Days was when my mom first moved back, unfortunately, I don’t remember the year, I wrote a personal story which follows here, most of it anyway. It now has a new ending.

Full Circle – A Journey of Healing
The year was 1939 and the way I heard it, RCMP traveled by dog sled from Ft McMurray to get my mom and her sisters so they could be sent to a residential school in Grouard. Only they didn’t know there were three sisters until they got back, and someone said, “Where is the other one, there are supposed to be three.” So off they went again by dog sled as there were no roads, some 50 plus kilometers to get my mom. You see, they didn’t know about my mom as her granny hid her under the bed. At five years old she was the baby. The way I picture it the RCMP must have pulled my mom out of the arms of her loving but now crying granny. I can imagine that both must have been inconsolable and completely consumed by grief.
Unfortunately, my family was not the only one that suffered as this scenario played out over and over again on different days, on different reserves, and to different families. So many families, so many tragedies, such great loss. My mom doesn’t recall what language she spoke, but it is thought that she only spoke Cree. My eldest Aunt, 9 at the time, says she could speak Cree and Chip (short for Chipewyan but now referred to as Dene). She also told me about the saddest day of her life. At 18 she was let out of the residential school and finally freed to return home. As the boat she was riding in came near the shore she could see Granny. She jumped off and ran to her – the one who loved her and took care of her while her mom was sick and after she passed away. Finally, she was home after spending nine years away, half of her young life. Finally, back to where she belonged. Only granny for whatever reason had lost her memory and didn’t remember my aunt, her granddaughter once so loved and cherished. I understand why my aunt called it the saddest day of her life. I grieve for my mom and her sisters. For the love they lost, for the languages they lost, for the culture they lost. I too feel the loss and pain as it goes forward from one generation to the next. I too lost my languages, my culture my history. All we can hope for now is healing.
Here we are 70 years later. I travel to my mom’s reserve for her Treaty Days. I am excited to be there to reconnect with family and to walk on ground where those who came before me walked and breathed and lived. My mom moved back to the place where she was born, a few years ago. The three sisters now all widowed were once again living in the place they had been taken from those many years ago. The oldest though has already left, gone back to where her family, her children and their children live. I always knew my mom needed to go back there to the place where her granny, the one she felt truly loved her, had taken care of her. Over the years I have heard her talk about her granny many times. Though many years have passed she still misses her. Nothing will ever compare to that sense of security and unconditional love so long ago lost and stolen forever.
I am looking forward to the food here – fish, fried Bannock, deer, elk, and moose meat. I only made it to one community meal and by the time I got up there all the fish and fried Bannock were gone. Luckily for me, my mom had earlier shared her food with me, as an elder here she was one of the first to get her food and she gave me her piece of Bannock. There was still some great food though, lots of meat, so I took some from each tray not knowing exactly what I was eating only that it was traditional, food that my ancestors would have eaten.
In the evening there was a music concert in the arbour. No pow wow, no drums, just guitars and a keyboard along with some great singing – a band that when mentioned a lot of Canadians would know of. A concert in the open air, I can see the sky and the surrounding trees. I sit on the ground watching and listening. It truly was a good time. But now at 11:00 p.m., it is getting dark, and the mosquitoes are biting. It is time to go home, except that we discover that we don’t have a way of getting there and must now find a ride. My mom tells the security girl on the road that we need a ride, she talks on her radio – I hear the frustration in her voice, “I have elders her who need a ride and bus has stopped running and no one told us.”
At that moment who should come along but two nice RCMP officers. My mom asks them if they can drive us home. They oblige. When we arrive, the officers help us out of the vehicle and as it turns out the one driving is from my city and the other being French insists on giving us a hug. I later tell my mom that she has come full circle and now she can leave. She’s been thinking about doing that anyway but just wasn’t quite ready. She, I needed for this moment to happen first. It was a short ride, though a long time in the making. As once they, the RCMP, had taken her away from here now 70 years later they brought her home.

I know this story was written over 10 years ago and a lot has changed. We’re taking back our culture, our ways, our languages. I danced in my first ever pow wow in Ft McKay at the age of 60.

My mom passed away September 10, in the place she was born Ft McKay. She told people her mom was coming to get her. She was surrounded by loving family members but also by many others not from here, not indigenous, but so loving and caring. Maybe, once upon a time, they didn’t understand us, didn’t know our history but now through the truth and reconciliation movement they do.

“We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on.” These are the words of Louis Riel.

This is my story. This is my truth.

Marlene Cooper-Sereda


As my brothers & sisters were taken away
you promised a better tomorrow
but our hearts was filled with sorrow
Today the painful memories linger
of the touch of your fingers
Today as I walk in silence
I clearly remember all the violence
My hair was long as it was cut
I wanted to scream but I was told
to be quiet & keep my mouth shut
I remember you scrubbing my body
as you tried to take away the brown
you wanted me to believe it was gaudy
you made me pose for pictures &
the lack of smiles will be a permanent fixture
I will always carry this language barrier
but in my heart, I will always be that warrior

By Marlene Cooper-Sereda


Shelley Cyprien

Shelley sent us these photos of the ribbon skirt she made to honour the missing children.


Wanda Harpe

Wanda sent in this framed poem for her Mother.

Grayson and Tayden Shott

Grayson and Tayden practice their culture daily in life whether it be dancing, drumming, hunting, fishing, gathering, trapping. They do this with pride because they know what their grandfather went through.

Grayson Shott

Tayden Shott

Cheyanne & Darius Faichney

Chase & Cruz Fabian


Frederick McDonald

Frederick has kindly sent in 3 wonderful poems and one of his lovely paintings.

It’s Come to This.…

it’s come to this
broken boards fixed and painter over
2 or 3 times, white-washed, maybe more
I notice where a cut was badly made
but not cared to be put right, uneven
perhaps time was of essence, and short
from one housing unit to the next, to the next
all of them looking the same
I guess the job had to get done
reminding me in a perverse way
of all those poplar trees along parts of my favourite bush
road and of my father telling me to measure
twice and cut once

then over the top of the fence
is the red brick wall of the neighbours
their living room looking exactly, as theirs
like the one I’m in looking out of, at theirs
when a striking black woman walks by
carrying plastic grocery bags, full arms
juggling them to get out her keys
she smiles at me watching her
as she enters her building, I smile
back and wish her a good evening
hurrying home to cook supper
for herself and her lover or
for her family of 3

suddenly a Raven lands
on the corner peak of that building
and croaks out a greeting to
whomever is listening, it’s lover
perhaps, or one of her siblings, or
me, beginning a conversation
that takes me back to where I was born
all those years passed when 2 boys
played hide and seek or cowboys
and Indians running half naked
through the woods yelling
and screaming. joyful sounds, exuberance
of youth, songs of life

I’m staring out the window in a
trance, hypnotized in that moment
wanting to think about what it means to be
Aboriginal, and an artist, but sometimes it is just too
fucking hard to be different, not fitting in, not
living up to other’s expectations
of who I am or should be, my brown
skin a mark for racists, who are everywhere,
in every shape and gender, a reminder
of canada’s history, laughable and so damn
disgusting and devastating, every time
I look in the mirror I see my parents
discussing where they should
raise their kids, on the reserve or
in town, away from their families, away
from their devastated lives
all of them living in dilapidated
shacks they call home

it’s come to this
they decide what’s best is to raise
their brood where they have a chance
at life, a chance at a future, but
we grow up assimilated, not taught our language
our culture a distant memory becoming blocked out
by all those Walt Disney movies on Sunday night
on CBC TV not realizing that ‘our’ government
and the churches have done their nasty
and said that in order for your
children to succeed they have to be
raised off reserve and thus inadvertenly, through my
parents hopes, any traces of the browness
are wiped away, subtley and that lives in
them and now, in me and I’m standing
here looking over the fences, hypnotized by
my favourite stand of poplar trees
living in my heart, in my
imagination, out there

i hear the land speaking
and the Ravens too
and the wind talking and at midnight
on the cold clear winter darkness,
northern lights of greens and reds
and yellows tease me to float
with them, to live in the
heavens half way between
here and where my ancestors
live with all their ancestors who
are all watching, keeping us
on a path not like the one I was
born to, but on the ones
I choose to travel

staring down that corridor
I see myself, a 10-year old, running blindly
precariously amidst uninspired beige walls within
the faded sky blue stuccoed school
where I began to read not knowing
that I was being carried away
by government assimilation policies, taught
by nuns and brothers in black attire, black robes
somewhat similar to those in the history books
plopped right there, I’m contemplating
my parent’s meagre formal education juxtaposing
theirs with my post-secondary academic achievements
which they were never be able to comprehend
where I found my path back to
my ancestors, almost like they
wanted me to find it

perhaps it’s come to this
listening to the Ravens and
the wind amidst the trees, I’m standing
here looking out over white broken fences
perhaps I hear myself tell myself that
it has come to this; I don’t speak
my parents or my ancestor’s language
I can only imagine what they say, what they
really mean, but I feel their
spirit and the land’s spirit and the
animal spirits and at some point I convince
myself that it’s enough, a lazy excuse not to learn
because I’ll never use it in the world I live
the governments and churches have done
their job, they’ve taken me
away from my people

the spirit lives in all of us, no matter
where we live, surrounded by
white fences or by white poplar trees
we are never far away from home
though we don’t speak the language
we do hear the forest speak
we do feel the land under our feet

Frederick R. McDonald, 06/2021.…


When Not to Count your Chickens

fires alight the news
from across our continent
every summer now
daily reports are filled
with towns being burnt to the ground
going up in smoke
filling the air
all across this land of ours
my eyes are irritated, watering
but only 2 months ago
it was about the unmarked graves
of all those children killed
in residential schools
by priests and nuns
encouraged by the 1st prime minister
of canada
through policies of assimilation
genocide is tolerated, even encouraged
statues of these architects of death, today
are toppled
makes for a great news story
then there’s a wobble in time
a paradigm shift, I hope
but more than likely, not
it’s all about the pandemic
that’s coming to a close
brings to mind – chickens
and when not to count them

Frederick R. McDonald, 07/2021.…


The Future Past of Our World


the bush
calls me out
calling me, talking to me
always, always, always

and, my favourite spot on the river
where I learned to swim is just around the bend from
where that old eagle sat at the top of that old tree and the lake
where I caught that giant Jack also talk to me, relentless
messages, signs from those
times and places

the world changed again when the white people came to this continent
and reading that in a subtext of a history book in university
upset me because I was not taught any of that
in all my years from elementary
through to high school

it’s like our people didn’t even exist

as I turned those pages I questioned
how traditions changed and how new traditions emerged when
hunting for a livelihood became trapping for a livelihood, when the oldest place in a province was a trading post for the Hudson Bay Company, an outpost of sorts for a new industry, when a voyageur named Peter Pond happened upon
a village of ‘Indians’ who used a black sticky
substance to make their canoes
water tight

that little village is ours
surrounded today by huge conglomerates
ripping open the land to take out the riches, the oil
that lays beneath those surfaces where my people hunted, where
we congregated just like our ancestors before
significant times of the year

where are those favourite places
to pick blueberries or cranberries, of my mother?
simple answer.… dug up

digging up
ripping apart the land
all those unknown gravesites of my ancestors
graves we didn’t know even existed until some company anthropologist jotted down a footnote in the minutes of a meeting of mine managers mentioning something
about finding bones, possibly hominid, possibly ancient
in a new section of the mine sometimes
emphasized putting a stop
to production

ripping apart the life
force of the animate

our whole world

corporations giving
us good jobs sustaining a socio-economically
cultural environment overriding our sometimes forgotten
innate connection to the land, our land, to a point that
we’ve become alienated from that landscape
from our history, we’ve become
in part – ‘them’, but

at that point
our local became global

we have a voice
when companies forget their commitments to the environment
reminding them, strong, determined, experienced

voices in my head, ancestors voice
our old people, our elders no longer talk about the past, they’ve become
displaced stories, displaced for such a long time, that
we became displaced

I hate to mention this, but
the report from the moccasin telegraph
is that Covid-19 took another
of our elders

relentless, stories die

removal of the land removes
any evidence that we were a part of the land
essentially, they remove our effectiveness
as stewards of the

we are not at fault here

winter comes
black mud is covered by white
a land ravaged by time and by oil
hungry entities searching the perimeters
of our traditional lands with
vicissitudes of economic

politicians play
pivotal roles in the future and the eternal
phantasmagorical fantasies, like sexual ecstasies arising half a continent away, or
even oceans away, in board rooms on the 40th floors are oil company
shareholders designating that the oil resources below
ancient lands far away, far removed, are
more important than the people

spiritual realms erupt again and
again the earth quakes as I walk through the forest
my sense are heightened, alive
reminding me the animate
is real

homogeneity of spirit
of economic realities push us further
and further away from our ancestors to a point where and when
we all need a ‘Moses’ to come and save us from them and
inevitably, from

my thought is where would we escape to
not wanting to cross all those deserts, 40 years searching
for our promised land

winter comes
the bush road is opened
our people stream onto the land
is a pristine place that we call home, where
we live our culture, amongst the ancestors
living with the plants and animals
talking to us

alas, our favourite place is just beyond the sounds
of those engines, machines working, relentless to a point, a breaking point
my people need time to reflect, to count our blessings, realizing that
should we be happy that we have a place to
reflect, considering ourselves

we catch fish
we hunt moose
we pick berries
we look at the stars
we watch our children play

and through it all

‘our’ lawyers fight the battles for us
‘our’ chief and council decide on what fights to fight, listening to
‘our’ land, hearing ‘our’ ancestors telling us to stand
‘our’ ground

enough is enough, but
we also have to know when is enough

we are nothing without the land

our battles are in the courts
we cite the ‘Crown’s’ responsibility to us
their fiduciary responsibility, their
duty to consult

the battles continue
because golden collared monkeys
in fancy suits from corporate head offices from all parts of the world continually rain down using any means possible including political posturing and sublime
corruptions of office, promises of

we help them, and
we help ourselves, we have a piece of the pie, yet
are we the guardians of the land speaking
behind closed corporate doors
be careful how you
take the land

not so long ago the fur industry died
our way of life ceased, taken away, taken when well-meaning
environmentalists spray-painted fur coats in London, Paris and New York
hurting, my people attacked by the same people who ask for our help to save the land
using fancy phrases like anthropogenic climate change, waving placards
shouting obscenities outside corporate head offices

hurt people became destitute
we were once experts at hunting and
trapping, trapped, now we are experts in the oil industry
forced to make hard choices

we go from one tradition
to the next, to the next, described, delineated, desired
global prospects

yet, the land
continues to speaks to us, there’s an
innate sense of the sacred, an innate sense of
the animate, a connection to the land that
exists in our people, we are
the land, our bodies

there is something out there, out where
our people can’t wait
to get back to

I became a man
under the tutelage of my father
he took me out onto the land, he taught me how to hunt
how to read the signs on and along the trail
and tales my grandfather told me
as I watched the fire in his
pot-bellied wood stove
makes sense

the moon is full tonight, silent
my community is asleep except for the howling
of reserve dogs and beyond and not far away I hear
the sound of machines as they move earth, relentless, building
tailings ponds, sandy berms holding precariously
the effluent of the rich

relentless conversations in my head
calling to me, calling, innate
animate discussions of

the bush

Frederick R. McDonald, 04/2021.…