Red Deer seniors and youths created a colourful memorial to mark country’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Residents of Three Robins, a Red Deer retirement home, teamed up with other seniors’ homes and central Alberta schools to paint dozens of rocks and placed them in front of City Hall Park earlier this week.
“It started as a very small idea,” said Jolene Wilson, Three Robins Red Deer general manager.
“Our residents came together, painted rocks and used that as a time to reflect, discuss and talk about what happened over the years and what it meant to them.”
This past Thursday was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.
The Government of Canada’s website says public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is “a vital component” of the reconciliation process. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.
The rock-painting project just continued to grow after its inception, said Wilson.
“We reached out to the Red Deer school board and some other local communities and schools … and they got involved,” she said.
In a post featuring a video showing off the dozens of hand-painted rocks on the Three Robins Facebook page, the retirement home thanked Oriole Park School, Glendale Science and Technology School, Westpark Middle School, École Upper Elementary School, Lindsay Thurber School, Hunting Hills High School, Eastview School, Boardwalk Retirement Community, Points West Living Red Deer and Three Robins Stony Plain for participating in the project.
“For us, each stone represented a thought, a wish, a prayer – something to just remember,” she said, adding it was astonishing to see so many others get involved in the project.
“It was so special to be able to bring our elders and youngsters together for something so important. It was amazing to create those connections.”
The rocks will remain in front of City Hall until Oct. 31. Wilson said she is working on finding a permanent home for the rocks.