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History (revisited)

(April 1 – June 30, 2021)

Rodrigo Alarcón-Cielock

Roman Theatre

Robert Julian Agnel

Every Child Matters, 215 Shoes: history revisited

Parliament Hill, Ottawa Canada

17 June 2021 at 5:40 AM EST

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© 2021 Robert Julian Agnel, All Rights Reserved.


Revisiting History

Canadian Indian Residential School System


Opening we see a sad frightened bear protecting his little buddy Ookpik. Behind them are 215 pairs of shoes and moccasins representing 215 lost souls. The chair might represent punishment and humiliation, forced to sit in the corner isolated from your friends by these white adults.

Panning 180 degrees, the Centennial Flame memorial is visited by many people during the day. Including the local Indigenous community offering music, dance, spiritual and personal items, toys and notes left for the children.

Recently the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation found the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves on the site of what used to be Canada’s largest residential school located in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Managed by the Catholic Church, this was one of 80 residential schools operating in Canada from the 1880s to the 1990s. About 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children were forcibly removed from their communities to attend the schools. Students lived in substandard conditions and endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The schools were run by Protestant and Catholic Churches, only the Catholic Church refuses to apologize to the people affected.

This memorial on Parliament Hill and others across the country bring the pain and suffering of the parents of the children and the plight of present day Indigenous peoples to the consciousness of Canadians. Using shoes and children's toys to shake our collective souls, we realize how colonizing white European Christians tried to destroy the cultures and identities of the Indigenous peoples whose land they were stealing.

    I work for a Canadian bank, last winter we were given time at work to research The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Residential Schools Act which removed Indigenous children from the influence of their own culture and tried to assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Links were provided with photos that made me embarrassed and ashamed of my heritage. I can only imagine the fear and abandonment these young children felt being forcefully removed from their family and community.

    Revisiting history especially history that makes people ashamed of their ancestors and policies of their government is hard. Canadians today try to be a warm, welcoming, accepting and pluralistic society. My hope is that these tragic events will bring about true reconciliation with our First Nations and a future that allows freedom and acceptance for all Canadians.

    Originally I wanted to focus on the Parliament Hill Rehabilitation a series of ongoing rehabilitation and preservation projects at the complex on Parliament Hill. The $3-billion project aims to preserve and rehabilitate the Parliament of Canada and various buildings within the Parliamentary Precinct.

    Behind the fence there is an archeological excavation of the British Barracks built during the construction of the Rideau Canal, the Centre Block with the Peace Tower. Panning right we see the East Block restoration, the Centennial Flame surrounded by a memorial to the 215 and the restoration completed West Block.


    USA-Canada / Canada-Ontario

    Lat: 45° 25' 25.73" N
    Long: 76° 42' 55.57" W

    → maps.google.com [EXT]

    Precision is: Medium. Nearby, but not to the last decimal.


    D90, 10.5MM fisheye, Nodal Ninja pole and head, Affinity Photo, Luminar 4, PTGui Pro

    Tears are not enough

    I watched news reports with videos of different memorials across Canada, but I was completely shocked and numbed when I personally saw the  memorial on Parliament Hill. I looked at a pair of girls shoes sparkling in the sun and in my mind I saw a small child confused and crying being removed from their homes and taken to a far away completely foreign environment. It took some time before I could see through the view finder to take some photos.

    Chief Justice Murray Sinclair, senator and former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, discusses the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and its implications for the nation-to-nation relationships between the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America) and the government.

    In June the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan found 751 unmarked graves at a former Catholic run residential school.

    National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419

     National Indigenous People Day

     National Indigenous History Month

    Tears are not enough

    My facebook has posts showing photos of the memorial over a couple of visits in June

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