A local artist is encouraging North Grenville residents to draw 215 hearts on their driveways or community sidewalks to recognize the 215 children who were found buried at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
Jayne Couch was horrified when she saw the news last Monday morning. “It just made me gag,” she said. “The issues are just ongoing and there’s no resolution to it.”
She got in contact with Mayor Nancy Peckford right away who agreed to allow Jayne to use chalk to draw 215 hearts at the entrance to the municipal centre. She also went to the local kids in the hamlet of Burritts Rapids who spent part of their morning putting 215 hearts on the sidewalk in their neighbourhood.
Jayne hopes that many people in North Grenville will join the effort to honour the lost lives and raise awareness for the need for true truth and reconciliation in Canada. “The Canadian government has treated that culture with disrespect for far too long, and that they still can’t get the respect they deserve is bothersome,” she says. “Putting 215 children in the ground consciously and not thinking you’re doing something wrong is mind boggling.”
Jayne says it is important for residents of North Grenville to do their part to speak out against the atrocities that Indigenous peoples in this country have endured. “Nothing will be done until over 50% of the people in Canada stand up and say do something to support the entire culture.”
Local resident, Susanne Larner joined Jayne at the Municipal Centre last Monday to help draw the hearts on the sidewalk. She believes spreading awareness in this way is an important part of healing Canada’s sordid past with Indigenous peoples. “Talking about the truth and discovering the truth and spreading the truth is the first step to reconciliation,” she says.
Both Susanne and Jayne are on the municipality’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, and Jayne says they hope this project will also show how the arts can make an impact in society. “Through the arts community, you can actually break barriers, you can cross over divides that have been really strong for a long time,” she says. “It’s a good way to unite people together to deal with issues.”
Susanne and Jayne have created a Facebook event where they encourage residents to share their hearts with the community. To participate, search “215 Hearts from NG to BC” on Facebook.