Yesterday, I was sitting on the balcony, staring down at the Meewasin river valley. My favourite place on earth. As I was walking, a group of kids passed below me. Half of them in bright orange shirts--sports, I assumed. They spilled out over the Meewasin like weeds, except not weeds because the Meewasin is a nature preserve so there's no such thing as a weed there.
The kids began playing in green space beside the Broadway Bridge--the one where Cherokee Louise from the Joni Mitchell song hid from her sexually abusive foster dad, during the 60s scoop. On the other side of the bridge, there's the pioneer memorial--a big stone monument with a plaque that basically says "we remember those who died clearing the land". The Meewasin is a mixed bag. Like my country. And I love it. Like my country.
Meewasin is the Nehiyaw (Cree) word for beautiful.
Then it hits me--they aren't a sports team. They're just school kids, most of whom happen to be wearing orange shirts. Because Orange Shirt Day falls on a Saturday this year, the kids were doing it a day early.
Phyllis Webstand was six years old when she lovingly chose an orange shirt for her first day of school, to have it ripped off her back because for Indigenous kids at that time, the stripping of their culture, identity, and dignity began with their clothes. "All of us kids were crying, and no one cared" she says, of that time in her life.
Well--no one cared yet.
Happy Orange shirt day.
Yes, I said "happy".
Because it is one of the greatest joys that we can always do better. We learn someone's story and we change what we do, and we have this chance for Phyllis and people who see themselves in her story to watch orange shirts popping up across the country like dandelions. No such thing as a weed on this land.
Dandelions on FIRE.
Yesterday the Meewasin was filled with school children in orange shirts, playing on the grass thirty feet from where Cherokee Louise used to hide.
"There's no such thing as other peoples' children." -Glennon Doyle Melton.