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Trigger Warning: Abuse, Residential Schools, Violence, Sexual Assault

History Background:

From 1831 to 1997, over 150,000 Indigenous children, as young as three years-old, were taken from their families and placed into the Residential School System.This was a network of schools, Christian churches, and levels of the Canadian government with the sole purpose of 'Killing the Indian in the child.' These children were not allowed to speak their own language or practice their culture. In 1920, it was made illegal for Indigenous children to not attend Residential Schools. At these schools, the children were neglected, malnourished, and experienced daily sexual, mental, emotional, and physical abuse and the mortality rate was 40-60%. The Survivors of Residential Schools and the generations of their descendants are affected by the same systemic attempts of Government-sponsored genocide during the Sixties Scoop between 1951 onwards. An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families, communities and Nations and were adopted out to white families in Canada, USA, and overseas. There continues to be more children in care than there were in Residential Schools.

“We instill in them a pronounced distaste for the native life so that they will be humiliated when reminded of their origin. When they graduate from our institutions, the children have lost everything Native except their blood.” Bishop Vital Grandin, 1875

Blackbird Fabrics donates 1% of our revenue each month to a rotating non-profit. With the help of recommendations from our team members, friends & family, and our customers, we choose non-profits that support causes that are important to us and our community. You can find a full list of organizations that we have supported here.

Our non-profit for June is the Legacy of Hope Foundation.

Wendy, our Community Engagement Coordinator, had the opportunity to speak with Legacy of Hope to learn more about their organization and the work that they do.

The Legacy of Hope Foundation (LHF) is an Indigenous-led charity in Ontario that has been promoting Reconciliation in Canada for over 20 years. The charity aims to educate and raise awareness of the history and existing intergenerational impacts of Residential School System and the Sixties Scoop on Indigenous Survivors, descendants, and their communities. LHF focuses on healing and Reconciliation by increasing public awareness of the history and effects of the Residential and Day School System so as to address racism, discrimination and healing.

A major program LHF is working on the Indigenous Seeds Project. It is an initiative that is working with Indigenous youth and teaching ways of traditional harvest and preservation methods. They also run a podcast called ‘Roots and Hoots’ that features interviews with Indigenous artists and performers.

In addition to these programs, LFH has also produced 20 exhibitions which aim to educate the public on Residential Schools, Day Schools, the Sixties Scoop and current issues such as the missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQ. They currently have two new exhibitions, Waniskhatan which means, “Wake Up!” in Swampy Cree and an exhibition on the Day School System. These exhibitions are free of loan fees and can accommodate museums, schools, libraries, and many other public spaces.

I asked LHF if there was anything else that they would like to share. On their website, there are dozens of recordings from Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop Survivors and their Testimonies on the traumatic experiences they endured. These Testimonies are the heart of the organization, and provide the inspiration for the LHF to continue to advocate and keep telling these accounts to the world, with the hope that the next generations of Indigenous Peoples are treated with equality, dignity, respect, compassion, and humanity.

We would like to extend a big thank you and gratitude to the staff at the Legacy of Hope Foundation for speaking with us and all the work they do for Truth and Reconciliation.

To learn more about Legacy of Hope Foundation, please click here.

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