photo by oh sierra
The Root to Bloom Tote // A community collaboration between people bringing their work together to raise awareness of poor living&learning conditions on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
Emily and I often find ourselves stewing in settler guilt, brainstorming ways we can get loud about the need for change in our country’s treatment (and disregard) of our indigenous peoples’ well-being. A mere 40min from where we live in Hamilton, the residents of the Six Nations reserve DON’T HAVE RUNNING DRINKING WATER.
Knowing this is a giant issue that seems too big to tackle, I called the Six Nations council and asked them how I could help. They encouraged me to support an immersion school on reserve. Kawenni:io/Gawenni:yo (KGPS) is a private school (bc the gov won’t fund that shit, obviously) that teaches elementary & high school in Cayuga & Mohawk language. This school is dedicated to the resurgence and restoration of their First Nations culture through language. Language is an important key to culture and a link to history.
KGPS is currently renting rooms in a lacrosse arena where there is also no running drinking water. They are hoping to build a new school on land that has potable water service so that they don’t have to ship in bottled water everyday.
We reached out to Jacqui Oakley (who generously illustrated the image of Mama Peonies kissing their baby buds) and Presstime Designs (who prints our Giant Tote) and to our luck they were happy to jump on board. After receiving the first mini-run of totes, we reached out to Oh Sierra Creative to see if they’d help us get the word out. Before I knew it, I was in a car with Xanthe and Frank (of Oh Sierra) driving out to the school to meet them and take pictures of the tote.
It was a quick, but highly emotional trip. It took less than 2 minutes of taking to Linda, the principal, before our hearts started breaking. I dissolved into a sobbing mess, apologizing to her because it’s all so unfair. My privilege. Their generational hardship.
100% of the proceeds from the Root to Bloom Tote are being donated to Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo Private School.
As settlers on unceded land, we are committed to responding to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. We want to affirm that indigenous languages are a fundamental and valued element of our culture and society and that the preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of indigenous languages and cultures are best managed by indigenous people and communities.
Creating this tote / buying this tote is a small but accessible gesture, and one that is greatly appreciated by Linda and her team. This tote project is just the tip of the iceberg of the indigenous advocacy we have in the pipes.
Buy a tote. Tell everyone you know to buy a tote. Stay tuned for more: crowd funding, reparation movement classes, fundraising dinners, and who knows what else. Join us.
photos by oh sierra