The Remembering the Children Society is hosting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Feast to Remember the Children of Red Deer Industrial School next month.
The event is set for June 6-7 and will be hosted at the Red Deer College, followed by the Remembering the Children Ceremony on June 8 at the Fort Normandeau Interpretative Park.
RDC will be the scene of the two-day event that will bring the Truth & Reconciliation Commission to Alberta for the first community hearing of five this summer. The public is encouraged to learn about this ‘untaught’ aspect of Canadian history and the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.
Some 2,000 Grades 4–12 students will take part in sessions at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery and the College. On June 8, Fort Normandeau will be the site of a feast to remember the children of the Red Deer Industrial School (1893-1919), which was located across the river from the Fort.
This is a partner event of the Red Deer Centennial Committee and is an important part of recognizing Red Deer’s history, officials say.
In June of 2012 the ‘Remembering the Children’ Society welcomed the City of Red Deer and County citizens to participate in the third of four ceremonies planned for remembrance of the children who attended the Red Deer Industrial School.
Previous ceremonies included the placing of the wooden grave markers on loan within the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery and the 2010 Fort Normandeau gathering of about 500 people which began with a spiritual blessing of the graves located on the banks of the Kinickinik (Sylvan) Creek followed by a feast at the park.
Archival records were displayed and memorial stones were distributed to the families as remembrances while the names of the children were read from school records.
Sunnybrook United Church hosted the ceremonies beginning on June 30, 2012 beginning with the Elders’ spiritual blessing and followed by acknowledgements from the City and County of Red Deer, government representatives, the United Church and leaders from the First Nations Treaty 6 &7 and the Métis Nation of Alberta.
“These ceremonies involving the United Church as a strong supporter, recognize the importance of acknowledging the injustices perpetrated on the children who attended the Red Deer Industrial School,” said Richard Lightning, Ermineskin Band, Hobbema. “Our communities still suffer the effects of the Residential School era.”
First Nations and Métis representatives have worked with the United Church of Canada in the formation of ‘Remembering the Children Society’ which began as a working group who produced a guide book to help other communities recover residential school cemeteries and history, and now organizes these events.
Remembering the Children Society (RTCS) president Charles Wood announced the fourth and final commemoration of the First Nations and Métis children who attended the Red Deer Industrial School.
This commemoration is part of the 100th anniversary events for the City of Red Deer as well.
“We are pleased to have had excellent help and cooperation from the City of Red Deer, the Sunnybrook United Church, the United Church of Canada, the Red Deer College, the Red Deer Friendship Centre, the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the First Nations Treaty 6 & 7 and the Métis Nation of Alberta,” said Muriel Stanley Venne, vice president of the Society.
This event will involve RDC hosting an educational program also involving the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery – ‘Project of Heart’ for students Grades 4-12 from the surrounding area, the City of Red Deer and Hobbema.
‘Project of Heart’ is an inquiry-based, hands on, collaborative, intergenerational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Indigenous (Aboriginal) people in Canada. Highlights include activities ranging from interactive exhibitions, survivor/author sessions, film screenings, cultural teachings and artistic expression of learning.
Concurrently the formal hearings and statement taking will hear from former students and descendants presenting to the Truth & Reconciliation Commissioner Wilton Littlechild.
Evening entertainment will include First Nations drummers and dancers, and folk singers such as Phyllis Sinclair and Métis jiggers and dancers.
The public is welcome to all parts of the event with the final commemoration to be held at Fort Normandeau on June 8.