A remembrance from the Blanket Train, June 2001

Jennifer Henry, executive director of KAIROS, gives a Reflection on water at Keepers of the Water: A Vigil of Lament and Celebration at Church of the Holy Trinity, Trinity Square on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. Photo/Michael Hudson

Butterfly dance

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…”

Old hymns kept us company as we waited for the train of fellow travellers and their solidarity baggage to come in from Western Canada.  The staff at Toronto’s Union Station looked with curiosity, but not alarm, as an Elder offered prayers and the smoke of sweet grass into the cavernous hall.  When the train finally arrived, we unloaded box after box of blankets.   The next day making the final trek to Ottawa to meet another train coming from the East.

Together we laid over 1000 blankets, often richly decorated,  on the lawn of the Canadian Supreme Court, each a unique expression of solidarity for the realization of Indigenous land rights.

National Indigenous leaders spoke, acknowledging petitions signed by 50,000 Canadians.

Millie Poplar receives a blanket for Joan Carling from the Philippines, Blanket Train 2001

Indigenous Women Elders–Canadian and Filipina–exchanged gifts of blankets as a

sign of shared struggles.  And Philippine partners  led a butterfly dance across the blankets that the children in the crowd could not help but join.

Return of the Land, Renewal of the Earth. Jubilee…

–Jennifer Henry, June 2001

Filed in: Indigenous Rights


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