Opposing forces, stand strong
on checkered board
Vast fields of action
past and present.
Pawns—First Nations societies
options and manoeuvres are few,
The Queen’s armies
defending “their” territory
minute allotments of land.
Geographic social spaces-
settlements and reservations.
Bishops—missionary social order
backed by royalty
and a clear conscience.
Stripping languages, childhoods and agency-
doing gods work?
poised for tactical attack
ambush the unknown, unwilling.
corporations and global economy
silently lurking in corners.
Casting big shadows-
of entitlement and affluence.
Offense or defense?
Impossibilities for advancement
difficult to move, breathe or speak
without significant sacrifice
or range of influence.
influencing actions, policies
Supposedly maintaining balance-
Distraction, intimidation, domination
dangling financial carrots
tied up with legalese
and indirect subtleties.
We call your bluff.
Pawns in poverty and servitude,
plucked from a playing field
by masterful, invisible
mechanisms in control-
The hands of power are far-reaching,
And often clasp what’s long been held
In trust, in spirit, in faithful stewardship
A realm where mystery and stories dwell.
Stretched out, no less
A cold caress…
To finger, test, and then molest.
Hidden valleys carved out by the flow of sacred knowledge
Passed from one generation to the next.
The song of power thunders
And leaves humility shaking in its wake
From turrets placed high –
Calls not to prayer,
But to the neon altar where we lay our money, our humanity, our compassion, our best.
A bleeding wallet pulled from the chest,
Find your way ‘round Wal-Mart’s the new vision quest.
It is the song that repeats in one’s mind,
Carried on the winds of exchange and opportunity
A powerful song, sung well by a few
Heard by the voiceless multitudes.
The arms of power like steel can bend,
And crush the needless obstacles
Who dare defy and question why
Such force does not relent.
Mountains moved, and cynics squeezed
The pumping heart of justice ceased.
Leaving naught but galactic biceps
And the lonely space between.
The hands of power are large, and can give when will exceeds
The song of power lingers, and carries our good deeds.
And…the arms of power worlds unearth
that we may plant our changing seeds.
Gabriel Dumont Institute visual arts instructor Christina Johns of the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) had her pre-service teachers complete the tile decoration component of the POH module during the fall term of 2008.
The SUNTEP students brought extremely compelling imagery to the exercise which commemorated the students who died at the Lebret Indian Residential School at Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. Click on the adjacent photo to see more examples of her class’s work.
Russell Fayant of the SUNTEP program and Christina herself have also responded through verse to the ongoing colonial project of cultural extinction, as experienced by their Métis community. Christina’s poem can be read here and Russell’s here.
The following report was submitted by Warren McBride, an educator from Ottawa:
We are a family of four, including two children aged 14 and 12, and in August 2008 we set out from Ottawa on a year-long round-the-world back packing adventure. Before leaving, we decided to participate in Project of Heart. We received the wooden tiles and agreed to keep in contact with the Project of Heart team in Ottawa.
POH would send us, via email, several names of children who had died while attending Indian Residential Schools in Canada and we would choose an appropriate location in the world to dedicate and decorate these blocks in those children’s memory. Continue reading Ottawa family takes POH around the world
In one of its last community activities as an independent congregation before amalgamating to form Kitchissippi United Church, members of Northwestern United Church in Ottawa’s west end gathered in May to participate in a Project of Heart workshop.
Led by POH co-founder Louise Madaire, the group met to do some research and find out a little of the Unitied Church’s complicity in carrying out the government’s “genetic engineering” project. A map of the IRSs across the country show which denominations and which locations the schools resided. Participants then met on a second evening to decorate the tiles and decide on a social justice issue to confront head-on. Click on the image to see the photo set from the two evenings.
As clicking on the image will show, Sherry Ambridge’s students at Dryden High School have decorated their tiles for Project of Heart. Sherry is the Aboriginal Alternative Education teacher at the school, which is in the Keewatin Patricia District School Board. Thank you to Sherry and all of her students.
Editor’s note: This report reaches us from Port Perry (Ontario) High School teacher Nancy Hamer-Strahl:
The CBC was at Port Perry High Schools Thursday, March 24th and June 3rd 2011. They came to film our Grade 12 French Immersion History class and the Grade 10 Canadian History class participating in Project of Heart. The CBC was very interested in the work the student had produced. Producer Nathalie Bibeau had this to say about the documentary series: Continue reading CBC Cameras come to Port Perry for Project of Heart
..mainstream Canadians wouldn’t profess such ignorance”
So says Winnipeg educator Angela Busch in this special report filed earlier this week by CBC reporter Karen Paul for the Stolen Children series on Radio One; it’s an interview with students from Project of Heart partner school Southeast Collegiate in Winnipeg and was recorded with teacher Angela’s history class. Continue reading “If the truth about residential schools was taught…
On the day before the Prime Minister’s official apology CBC Ottawa asked Project of Heart’s Greta Neepin and Sylvia Smith into the studio to talk about what the apology means to survivors and how the residential school era is being taught in schools like Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternate Site.
The segment includes interviews with Wyn Wood students Violet Roseheart and Tommy Peacock.
Our thanks PODCO New Media for converting the file to podcast format.
The truth about the Indian Residential Schooling era makes uncomfortable reading for many Canadians, and that can sometimes include the editors of our increasingly-concentrated news media.
However, in this article on the Reuters site, no punches are pulled. As Canadians perhaps it is time we reflect on the way our “good-guy” image is taking a beating in the international news media, who are not afraid to report on the truths many of us seem to find unpalatable.