Canupawakpa remembers the children in memorial ceremony

Healing is important in Dakota culture, it’s part of resolving pain of the past and moving forward, as was signified by a June 7 memorial for the 215 Kamloops Residential School children.

Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation community held a ceremony to acknowledge what First Nations in the West experienced and in particular to remember the children who died there.  

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Carol Mackay-Whitecloud, Director of Health for Canupawawakpa tells of the very moving event held by the small gathering at Canupawakpa. There were no dry eyes. “We have a very beautiful way of honouring. It was very moving to hear the drum.”

Molly Taylor, Morley Taylor, Myra Taylor along with Wyatt Brown were the dancers. Dakota songs and lyrics were a thrilling part of the ceremony as well.

Residential schools taught the children but that came at too great a cost she says. “Overall, they did more harm than good.”

Many have gone to their graves there and hunger was a real issue. “My father attended the Brandon Residential School and died at a very young age, at 36. I recall some of his stories, being so hungry that they raided framers field potatoes and building a fire to cook them.”

The focus was on “the loss of the beautiful little souls.” Also, Monday was a day for the community to more forward and heal. Mackay says an important part of healing is to ensure that Child and Family Service concerns are resolved.

Mackay says there’s a renewed focus on being a good parent. “We can be healthier community and healthier parents. We work on empowering our families, on connecting to our culture and keeping our community deeply connected.”

She is very impressed with the cultural values she finds at Canupawakpa and says, “Dakota are a praying people, not mean spirited.”

It’s important to be good neighbours, good friends, with the neighboring communities and she says that Reston and Pipestone towns have been very welcoming.

© Virden Empire-Advance