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 Heart Garden Reflection
  By Maggie Donnelly, grade nine student, Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, Ont.
I’m sure that many of you know the name Chanie Wenjack. He was an Anishinaabe boy who lived in Ontario and attended Cecilia Jeffrey Resi- dential School, which was run by the PCC. In 1966, when he was 12 years old, he ran away from the resi- dential school, a school that all of the Indigenous children in the area had to attend. A week after his escape, he died of hunger and exposure to the weather.
Of all Canadian residential school victims, Chanie’s story may be the most widely known, thanks in part to Tragically Hip frontman, Gord Downie, releasing The Secret Path, a multimedia project that includes an
album, graphic novel and animated film based on Chanie’s story.
But even Chanie’s story is not remembered fully. On the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website, his name is not written as Chanie. It is written as Charles, be- cause the school that he attended changed his name on their official records.
A name can be a powerful thing. Often, it is a part of a person’s iden- tity, and it is one of the first ways that other people recognize us. But there are many children who are not remembered by their name or their story. It was for the purpose of honouring those children, and all of the children who attended residential schools, that the first Heart Garden was created.
In June of 2015, the first Honour- ing Memories, Planting Dreams event
took place at Rideau Hall. Thousands of people participated in this event by designing paper hearts, each heart representing one child who was lost to the residential school system. When the organizers of that event started it, they hoped that the seeds they had planted would spread all across the country. And now, one of them has taken root right here in our community.
This summer was an unusual one. Because of the safety protocols put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it was difficult (particu- larly for students) to find meaningful projects to work on and ways to get volunteer hours. I was having many of these difficulties, so I asked our interim moderator, the Rev. Helen Smith, if there were any projects that I could work on here at Guildwood Presbyterian Church in Scarborough,
Ont. In her reply, Helen sent me a link to a website about the Honour- ing Memories, Planting Dreams event and suggested that I could start a Heart Garden. I thought the idea was wonderful, but didn’t know anything about gardening, so we asked a few members of the community if they wanted to be a part of this project.
Since then, many people have found ways to support and help the garden thrive. Sandra Robertson and Kay Galbraith helped choose a spot and clear out the weeds so the gar- den would have room to grow. Cindy Similas and I prepared the soil and selected the plants that would grow together. Cindy also gave the project some of the plants from her garden; Bee Balm, a plant with beautiful red flowers that are helpful to pollinators, and Bleeding Hearts. Cathy Mines from Reach Yoga helped us acquire white sage and tobacco, which are both sacred to Indigenous people across Canada. Steve Lynette made two signs so the people passing by the garden will understand why the garden is there and what it rep- resents. Grace Wuthridge donated money to cover the cost of resources and supplies we needed. Iain Don- nelly and Laura Alary helped me find the names and some of the stories of the children this garden is honouring and remembering. And together, Mir- iam Donnelly and I painted the stones that took place of the paper hearts in the original event. Each background is unique, just like each child was unique. Our hope is that in time, eve- ry person who died in a residential school will have a memory stone in the garden to honour them. But that may still be a long way off. We have managed to find the names of almost 180 children who died in schools run by The Presbyterian Church in Cana- da. But that number does not come close to representing all of the lives that were lost. There is still a lot of work to be done.
As I was painting the names of these children onto the rocks, I saw the names of two people that jumped out at me. They went to the same
school. They had the same last name. And they died within five years of each other. I found myself wonder- ing about them. Were they siblings? If so, did they get along with each other? Did they have other siblings? Brothers and sisters who cared about them? Who remembers them? It was only then that I fully realized: We are not just remembering numbers of people on a list. We aren’t just re- membering a name on a rock, either. We are remembering real people— actual individuals who had real fami- lies and real lives, although many of those lives were ruined or cut short. And we have to remember that.
So, as you pass by a Heart Gar- den, think about that. Remember that the racism that underscored the In-
 Presbyterians Sharing supports healing and reconciliation initiatives of the PCC.
 Engaging the Themes Within the National Inquiry’s Report
The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that genocide has been—and continues to be—committed against Indigenous people in Canada. A new study resource, Why Work to Decolonize?, produced in collaboration between the PCC’s National Indigenous Ministries Council and the Life and Mission Agency (Justice Ministries), engages the overall themes of that final report. It aims to help people understand those themes and learn what can be done, both by individual Christians and in wider society, to pursue justice and reconciliation going forward. We hope it can be used as an orienting resource and catalyst to read and work through the National Inquiry’s final report itself.
Download the full report at
   Why Work To Decolonize?
An Interim Study Guide Engaging the National Inquiry’s Final Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Produced for The Presbyterian Church in Canada
in collaboration between the National Indigenous Ministries Council and The Life and Mission Agency (Justice Ministries)
  dian Residential School system still impacts Indigenous children and youth today, and can be seen in the excruciatingly high numbers of youth suicide, the disproportionate num- ber of children removed from their families and communities by child welfare agencies, and the chronic underfunding of health, infrastruc- ture and social services, including schools, in Indigenous communities. And as you remember, be stirred to action. Read the Truth and Reconcili- ation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice. Learn how Indigenous youth are seeking justice for their peoples and seek ways to walk with them in a good way.
Remember that it is not too late to make a difference.

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