Kevin Lamoureux says the verdict in the death of Colten Boushie underscores the needs for a healing forest. (CBC) Both anger and hope highlighted the launch event for a healing forest in Winnipeg, as emotions continue to run high after the not-guilty verdict in Gerald Stanley’s trial for killing Colten Boushie.
Organizers behind the forest, a living memorial to Indigenous children lost to or affected by the residential school system, say it will be a place of peace and contemplation where people of all generations can remember the past and envision the future.
But on Monday, peace seemed a long way off.
"I don’t think that any of us expected to be meeting at a time like this, where the injustices would be thrown so squarely into our faces once again, of how fundamentally unfair this society can be and how fundamentally dangerous this society can be for Indigenous people," said Kevin Lamoureux of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
"And yet we gather here to talk about healing and to talk about reconciliation; we gather here as communities to support one another and to offer each other hope and love and in this instance, a safe place where we can gather with our children and continue to educate them in a way that will inspire hope and a strength and a commitment to carrying on despite the awfulness that we see in the world around us." Colten Boushie was shot and killed on a farm in Saskatchewan in August 2017. (Facebook) On Friday, a Saskatchewan jury found Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Boushie. The verdict led to an outcry of shock, anger and sadness across the country and rallies in many cities.
As Winnipeg prepares for the first steps in establishing its healing forest — the second such place in Canada — it’s not just about those impacted by residential schools and their families, Lamoureux said, but "how deep there is a need for healing in the rest of Canada as well."
He talked about the jurors in the Boushie case and the authors of "awful messages spewed across social media" about Boushie as people in need of healing.
The forest, which will be in the northeast corner of St. John’s Park in Winnipeg’s North End, will be a space for all people to reflect on their own histories but perhaps most importantly, for those who still hold onto hatred and discrimination, Lamoureux said.
"They’re the ones in this moment that need the most healing." This sketch shows the proposed design of the healing forest and learning space. (Submitted by Kyle Mason) The forest will be a physical space where people can reflect and be grateful for the reconciliation work that has been done and that which has yet to be done, Lamoureux said.
"We are going to be OK through this. We are going to survive. We are going to persevere through this."
Those remarks were echoed by Kyle Mason, a member of the planning group behind the forest and the son of two residential school survivors.
"Current events only highlight the fact that we still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go," he said. Lee Anne Block, one of the planners behind the healing forest, hopes the project is a step towards building trust and truth and healing in the community. (CBC) "But reconciliation is so important that we cannot give up. Progress never happens in a straight or easy line, it takes twists and turns and has setbacks.
"But we must continue forward."
Construction on the forest begins in March with the planting of […]
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