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ABE Class Hangs Quilt to Commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By Shawna Dubiel, Saskatoon ABE Instructor

Jan 12, 2022

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This fall, the Saskatoon Adult Basic Education (ABE) students and instructors (levels three and four) united together for a day of fellowship, education, and awareness.

On September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we started our day with a smudge, then moved back into the classroom where we heard from and read about residential school survivors. It’s said that every Indigenous person alive today is affected by the atrocities of residential schooling, and on this day, several of our students shared their family’s stories. We remembered the children who never came home from school. We also remembered the children who survived and have since passed on to the Spirit World. We paused to consider all children and families affected by Indigenous child apprehension programs.

Our project to commemorate this important day was to create a wall hanging in the form of a quilt. Each participant chose a square of fabric. On each square, we were asked to include an image that represented what National Day for Truth and Reconciliation meant to us. Some students traced colouring pages onto their squares, while others used beads and other resources. When all the fabric squares were completed, they were sewn “quilt-style” with a black Métis floral fabric as a border. Ribbons representing the medicine wheel were added, along with the year. As a team, we decided to dedicate this day and each September 30th going forward, as a day of remembering.

Before we went home that day, we made tobacco ties with pieces of red fabric, tobacco and tobacco seeds, and orange ribbon. During this process, we reflected on the sacredness of childhood, thinking with our hearts. When we imagined the sadness, we decided to treasure our own happiness. In a thoughtful way, we began to create our tobacco bundles. We wrapped our love inside, making it meaningful. When our bundles were complete, we decided to offer it to those who were lost and to those still affected. We walked down to the metal tipi in Victoria Park and tied our bundles in the surrounding trees, passing along our love and compassion. We ended our day with a moment of silence and the echoing music of the wind chimes at the top of the tipi.

The quilt was completed and hung outside the ABE level four classroom at the Dumont Technical Institute campus in Saskatoon this winter to honour Louis Riel Day as well as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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