In June of 2010 a Peace and Social Awareness committee member of the Canadian Mennonite University was inspired by Project of Heart’s presence at the First National Event of the TRC in Winnipeg, and contacted us so that the PSAC committe and the wider student body might learn more about their own community’s role in the history of the Indian Residential Schools. A partnership was born, and this past academic year the CMU’s involvement with Project of Heart was facilitated by Coreen Froese, a student at the Shaftesbury campus of the University.
Poplar Hill IRS was run by the Northern Gospel Light Mission, a mission of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference, so for Froese it felt like it was a “good fit” for her and her fellow students to learn more about it, and to put their learning into action.
Froese contacted Elder Wally Swain, a cultural worker who has worked with many IRS survivors in Manitoba, and who agreed to smudge the tiles upon their completion. Neill and Edith vonGunten, former co-leaders of Native Ministry for the Mennonite Church of Canada and active promoters of cross-cultural relationship building, were there to witness the ceremonial smudge which took place at the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre.
Participants chose to learn about the epidemic of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada, and took action by signing the Amnesty International petition “No More Stolen Sisters”. Ekosi to the students at the Canadian Mennonite University!