Statement of Intent

Before I begin, I want to express that I am approaching this topic with a heart of love, respect, acceptance, and hope. I ask the Creator to guide my thoughts. My intention is to aid awakening by making more people aware of Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Day.

I acknowledge that I cannot claim to understand the experience of Aboriginal Peoples who have been removed from their land. My message to those who suffer the agonies of inequality is that I accept you, I value you and I am open to share your pain. I also ask you to favor me with education should my words fall short or add to your pain.

What is Truth and Reconciliation Day About?

As I write this, it is September 30. Today is Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Day. It is a day of polarities. On this day, we respond to the horrors of the past and the inequity of the present by expressing grief and hope. As a nation, we grieve the historic passing of so many Aboriginal Peoples as a result of the Residential School system.

Today is also about opening our eyes to the beauty and rich diversity of our Aboriginal People’s culture, language, and religion. Finally, today represents an opportunity to join hands and commit to working together for a future emblazoned by equality, inclusion, and acceptance.

Open to Hope – A Community that Understands

Here in the Open to Hope community, there are no strangers to grief. We come here to share our individual losses and the resulting pain. We come together to offer support, wisdom and understanding. Together we are stronger than we can hope to be alone.

One of the atrocities wrought against the Aboriginal Peoples of our land was the breaking of that bond of unity. Families were intentionally divided. The uniting forces of community, culture, and spirituality were mercilessly stomped out.

In this community, we appreciate the value of family, memories, and tradition. We can imagine the struggle of trying to recollect the precious shards of language and tradition after so many years and so much pain.

Cultural Grief

Many Elders and Knowledge Keepers within our Indigenous Peoples communities are survivors of the Residential School system. To these people, I open my heart. It takes admirable courage to shoulder the burden of your grief and turn toward rebuilding rather than revenge.

I understand my privilege and recognize the unfair advantages it affords me every day of my life. What I hope to help others like me grasp is that there is a weight borne by most people of color. This is the weight of knowledge and history.

In the every-day struggle for self-value, some have the scales brutally tipped out of their favor. These worthy people endure inequity of a daily basis. These Peoples stagger under the weight of grief. So many children perished because they wore skin the same hue as theirs.

I see your pain and am sorry you have suffered it.

Grief Does Not Have a Statute of Limitations

In this Open to Hope community, we know the struggle of standing against this type of thinking. I am sure we have all suffered beneath the misconception that the experience of grief should be a limited-time experience. Grieving too long can be seen as unhealthy. The concept most of the world holds about moving on is skewed toward letting go of and leaving the past behind.

The past is part of us. We can’t leave it behind. We have no desire to forget our beloved departed or leave them in the past. Moving on is not the act of leaving our grief behind us. It is the process by which we knit it lovingly into a coat of many memories and wear it proudly every day of our lives.

Truth and Reconciliation Day – Canada’s Shawl of Grief

There are those who view this day of grief and hope in a disparaging light. I beg for a change of heart! Surely we can agree that we must recognize the wrongs of the past. I hope that most of us can also see the inequality still prevalent today. I challenge each of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples alike, to look at our brothers and sisters and see the beauty that is there! Look beyond the skin pigment, and find something that is worthy of knowing, learning, and celebrating.

I hope that we continue to uphold Truth and Reconciliation Day. It is my prayer that the spirit of this day becomes the garment of grief we knit into something beautiful to wear daily with pride.

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Read more from Colleen on Open to Hope: The Grief of Returning – Open to Hope

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Colleen Friesen

Who is Colleen Friesen? I am a proud mother, a blessed wife, a blossoming daughter, a compassionate and supportive sister and friend. I have the peace-loving, inclusive heart of a hippie which serves me well in my role as Associate Director of Human Resources at the Community-based non-profit agency that employs me. I am a prairie girl who harbours a love-hate relationship with the climate of the glorious Saskatchewan prairie that is my home. I have loved to use words to lead others along with me through my experiences – both real and imagined throughout my life. I consider myself a word crafter – sometimes choosing to paint, other times sketch, oftentimes sculpt, frequently clip/paste/gluing words and phrases together in such a way that will draw my reader into a soul-synergy with me. It is my hope that I can draw people close, so they are able to experience the reassurances, comforts, and freedoms I have found for myself. I have survived devastating losses; I have healed crushing psychological injuries and I live… I LIVE. I live a life filled with joy, love, peace, and presence. I am enjoying the benefits of years of learning, growing, forgiving, loving, and observing. It is my natural compassion and gift of observation that has led me to yearn to bring those who are suffering to the oasis of Truths that sustains me within this world of challenging experiences. The passing of my eldest son almost 2 ½ years ago coalesced my passions for writing and helping into a focused purpose. My greatest accomplishment has been parenting my sons. Both boys are beautiful souls; loving, kind, compassionate individuals who have blessed the lives of those they touch. That was not an accident nor was it easy, but it has been the most rewarding and fulfilling purpose of my life. When my first-born left this dimension, it became imperative for me to carry his beautiful spirit onward. So, now I craft words with his guidance to bring love, hope and comfort to those who grieve.

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