Hamilton neighbours chalk handprints on sidewalk to support Indigenous communities

·3 min read
Kimberly Garrod and her neighbour used chalk to make dozens of handprints on their Hamilton, Ont., sidewalk Wednesday night in support of Indigenous communities following recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools. (Submitted by Kimberly Garrod - image credit)
Kimberly Garrod and her neighbour used chalk to make dozens of handprints on their Hamilton, Ont., sidewalk Wednesday night in support of Indigenous communities following recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools. (Submitted by Kimberly Garrod - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.

Dozens of handprints have been painted on a sidewalk in Hamilton in support of Indigenous communities across Canada following recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools.

Kimberly Garrod said she and a neighbour made the handprints Wednesday night.

"We made our own sidewalk chalk and we wanted to put as many handprints as we possibly could to support the Indigenous children, all of the graves that have been found at the residential schools," Garrod told CBC Hamilton on Thursday.

"We thought this is a good, easy way for us to show our support and to mourn with the Indigenous community."

On Wednesday, the community of ʔaq̓am, one of four bands in the Ktunaxa Nation located near the city of Cranbrook, B.C., announced that 182 unmarked graves had been discovered near the site of the former St. Eugene's Mission School.

Last month, the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of 751 unmarked graves found in a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

Those announcements followed news in May that the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in B.C. found 215 unmarked burial sites adjacent to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

We thought it would be a good teachable moment for [kids] to learn about the Indigenous community and what had happened. - Kimberly Garrod

Garrod said she and her neighbour covered the sidewalk in front of their homes with handprints and have an orange flag hanging in support as well.

They also added handprints to a crosswalk.

"There are so many kids in our community and we found a lot of the kids, when seeing it, they had no idea what it was for or why," Garrod said.

"So we thought it would be a good teachable moment for them to learn about the Indigenous community and what had happened."

She said she thought the project might also spark more conversation among adults to realize what has happened and "maybe focus on actually getting clean drinking water to the Indigenous communities because that still hasn't happened."

Submitted by Kimberly Garrod
Submitted by Kimberly Garrod

The project took a few hours to complete.

"We tried to make the hands orange, some of them are orange, some of them came out white, but either way I think it looks really, really cool," Garrod said.

"I posted it on the community Facebook page and it's been amazing, positive support. People are just loving what we've done."

Neighbours respond

Rachel Pinsonneault posted to the group and thanked the women for creating the project.

"As a native woman … I thank you for all for such great support," she said. "Feels amazing to know folks in my very own community feel just as strongly as I do about this. You guys rock!"

Brenda Bramburger-Pinsonneault posted her own kudos, "This is Awesome!! Thank you for wonderful hard work."

Last month, Garrod and her neighbours used chalk to turn their sidewalk into a rainbow celebrating Pride month.

Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential school and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

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