A remembrance from the Blanket Train, June 2001
“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.
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