Since the discovery of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, the Indigenous community have been grieving and healing around Canada.
Audrey DeRoy, land based coordinator for the Ontario Native Women’s Association, is helping her community, her family, and herself through the healing process after this gruesome discovery.
“We knew there were investigations that had to be followed through upon… it was a matter of time,” she says about the Kamloops discovery.
After the announcement last month by the Tk’emlúps to Secwépemc First Nation, more investigations are on the way, reopening generational wounds the Indigenous community is all too familiar with.
“We hear our Elders, we hear the residential school survivors share their stories of how they witnessed horrendous things and unspeakable acts… we’re carrying all that with us and when the news came it hit us hard.”
Moving through and letting go
DeRoy says that, although this moment in time has been heartbreaking, it’s creating strength within herself, as a woman and, especially, a life giver.
“The best gift and purpose in life is to take care of our children.”
DeRoy, along with ONWA, have been hosting virtual gatherings called Grieving Together once a week. Today Traditional Healer Al Hunter will host Elder Guided Grief Teachings and at the end of the month a Sacred Fire with drumming and singing will take place.
DeRoy says this is to let go of what we no longer want to carry and come back to being focused and continue building.
Just keep moving forward
While everyone grieves at their own pace and style, DeRoy is making sure to continue taking care of herself through this time. She is all too familiar with grief.
Her mother was a residential school survivor and after losing both of her parents in a car crash as a child, DeRoy learned how to grieve in this world through her own trials.
“It’s all about being kind and doing the best you can with what you have and allowing people to be themselves,” she says about the healing process throughout her life and now.
There are many shared traumas occurring in the face of reopened wounds due to the residential school system and DeRoy is walking gracefully among them, helping anyone that needs it.
“Just keep moving forward and I know everything’s happening, but we need to cry the tears when they come.”
Join ONWA for Grieving Together at 6 - 8 p.m June 17, and June 25 for an open sharing circle acknowledging the loss of 215 small lives.
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program hotline is available for survivors and families experiencing trauma. Call 1-866-925-4419.