Media Advisory: KAIROS invites children to create Heart Gardens in honour of children lost to the Indian Residential School system

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(Toronto, ON) – KAIROS Canada invites children and youth in parishes and congregations from coast-to-coast to create hearts for a Heart Garden in remembrance of Indigenous children who attended the Indian Residential Schools. A Heart Garden will be planted at Rideau Hall on June 3 after the official close of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with similar Heart Garden ceremonies planned at churches and in communities across the country from May 31 to June 3.

The Heart Garden is a joint initiative of the TRC, KAIROS Canada, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and Project of Heart, and will serve as a legacy of the work of the

TRC, former students of Indian Residential Schools and their families. It will also mark new possibilities in reconciliation.

“Through the TRC process, survivors have spoken straight from the heart about the trauma they experienced as students, a trauma passed down to the next generation,” says Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS Canada, and who attended six TRC National events. “Canada must receive this truth with an open heart, and as the TRC comes to a formal close, commit to a future of justice that will lead to reconciliation. The Heart Garden symbolizes hope and commitment in forging just relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

 On June 3, five hundred children from the Ottawa-Gatineau area will gather at Rideau Hall to greet survivors, the TRC Commissioners, and those with the responsibility of continuing the important work of reconciliation started by the TRC. Each child will carry two hearts attached to wooden gardening stakes. They will plant one heart in the Heart Garden at Rideau Hall and share the other with an adult attending the formal closing of the TRC. Following a brief ceremony, a rendition of ‘Sing’ and the planting of the hearts, the children will lead a procession away from Rideau Hall to symbolize that children will lead us towards a future of reconciliation.

The hearts will be on public display on the grounds of Rideau Hall from June 4-7.

KAIROS is asking its constituency across the country to honour this important moment by planting Heart Gardens in their communities. From Early April to mid May, KAIROS invites children and youth to make laminated or biodegradable hearts. Each community or congregation is asked to send one heart to KAIROS’ Ottawa office to be received by May 22 to be part of the Rideau Hall ceremonies, and to plant the other hearts in a Heart Garden in their communities between May 31 and June 3. Participants are asked to visit the KAIROS website for details on creating hearts.

Gardens may range from symbolic to actual plots. Participants are encouraged to invite Indigenous neighbours to help create the hearts and plant the Heart Gardens. With the guidance of Indigenous elders, the planting of sacred medicines like tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass is also encouraged to create a more permanent recognition of residential school students and the shared commitment to reconciliation.

Churches are encouraged to register their Heart Gardens through

The Heart Garden is one of many events planned by KAIROS Canada and its partners. KAIROS is hosting an intergenerational gathering entitled Time for Reconciliation, starting May 29 and leading into the ceremonial close of the TRC. Time for Reconciliation’s sessions and workshops are structured around the themes Recognition and Reconciliation, Decolonization, and Honouring Indigenous Rights. To learn more, visit

About KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

KAIROS is a faith-based social justice organization of eleven Canadian churches and religious organizations. It focuses on Indigenous rights, international human rights and ecological justice. We deliberate on issues of common concern, advocate for social change and join with people of faith and goodwill in action for social transformation. To learn more, visit

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Media Contact:
Cheryl McNamara
Media Coordinator
877-403-8933 x 246
416-875-0097 (mobile)

Filed in: Media Releases


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