For reconciliation, and the children

Author of the article: Jessica Munro  •  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Publishing date: Jun 21, 2021  •  15 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •   Join the conversation

Yessica Rivera Belsham sings Tonantzin, a song in the Nahuatl language, while family members dance around her in traditional clothing during the Indigenous Peoples Day event on Monday.  By
Yessica Rivera Belsham sings Tonantzin, a song in the Nahuatl language, while family members dance around her in traditional clothing during the Indigenous Peoples Day event on Monday. By PHOTO BY JESSICA MUNRO 

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ATHENS – The sun broke through the rain clouds on Monday morning as a prominent First Nations leader joined locals in marking National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Annually, June 21 is a day to reflect on and recognize the history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.What just bit me?

“We’re honouring, respecting and showing support to our First Nations brothers and sisters,” said Diane Godwin-Sheridan, who worked alongside her husband, Dave Sheridan, to touch up a mural on the wall of Athens Fresh Market.

Mary Lynn Baker originally painted the 90-foot-long scene of the town’s landmarks and history in 1994. The Sheridans say they are creating a new mural with Baker’s work as the guide.

While the Sheridans are working on the entirety of the mural, they wanted to unveil the 10-by-10 section that they have renamed “First Nations Market” in respect of Indigenous Peoples Day.

“I’ve looked into the artwork that has been used in the Truth and Reconciliation committee, and their specific designs and lettering styles used as logos for that committee and I’ve integrated them into the mural itself,” said David.

“It is a tribute to the history of Athens and they’re trying to keep it alive as well,” he added.

“It’s just been delightful for me to be a part of, for Diane as well, to continue to strengthen the looks of the murals that are existing.”

They are within a week of completing their painting.

“I didn’t have the time to completely finish it by June 21; the motivation for Monday’s event was to strictly show respect and honour the Native people of Canada.”

Elmer St. Pierre, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, had only ever driven through Athens once before and says this was his first time seeing the mural. He thinks it was a great idea.

“A lot of people came up and thanked us, they enjoyed everything. I spoke with the mayor and MPP about having something next year.”

Athens Mayor Herb Scott invited them back to celebrate at a larger scale at a nearby field that has a pavilion and seating for guests, COVID permitting.

Elmer St. Pierre, right, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, hugs Athens Township Mayor Herb Scott after Scott’s speech during the Indigenous Peoples Day festivities on Monday.
Elmer St. Pierre, right, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, hugs Athens Township Mayor Herb Scott after Scott’s speech during the Indigenous Peoples Day festivities on Monday. PHOTO BY A /jpg, BT

St. Pierre’s children and grandchildren performed dancing and drumming in front of the mural, as roughly 20 community members watched. St. Pierre’s daughter-in-law, Yessica Rivera Belsham, sing Tonantzin, a song in the Nahuatl language, while family danced around her.

“It’s very much about honouring all mothers, Mother Earth and this one was in tribute today in honouring the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the two-spirit people as well,” Belsham continued.

“It’s about honouring the little ones as well, the 215, plus the more that are being discovered. It’s honouring that connection to every breath of life, and our ancestors and connection to Mother Earth.”

She was referring to the recent sad discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC.

Among the attendees were Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark and Scott.

“Events like this today on Indigenous Persons day is very important as a part of the reconciliation process. Just last week the Premier and Minister Rickford announced a 10-million-dollar package regarding reconciliation around some of the residential schools,” said Clark, referring to Greg Rickford, the province’s Indigenous affairs minister.

“It’s very important that we as a province step up and become a part of the reconciliation.”

https://www.recorder.ca/news/for-reconciliation-and-the-children

People of KHSC: Yessica Rivera Belsham

News / General Monday, June 21, 2021 – 12:00pm

People of KHSC celebrates individuals across KHSC who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other

  • YessicaNursing Support Assistant Yessica Rivera Belsham is grateful to access the Mamawi Room. This space was designed with input from Indigenous patients who were asking for an area to for culturally important ceremonies such as smudging, circle prayer and singing.Credit: Matthew Manor

As June 21 marks National Indigenous People’s Day and Solstice – the longest day of the year, Nursing Support Assistant Yessica Rivera Belsham recognizes the importance of coming together to celebrate Mother Earth, our culture, our languages, and our traditions across Turtle Island.

“My heart is with the people in Northern Ontario communities and the patients we are caring for from this devastating state of emergency and hope they get the resources needed such as adequate housing, clean water, healthcare, and other services,” said Yessica. “I have personally experienced the loss of several family members to COVID-19. I know first-hand the pain and suffering these communities are experiencing.

“There is a great deal of collective grief, especially for Indigenous communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 while simultaneously dealing with the shock and grief of the 215 Indigenous children who never made it home and the missing survivors of the Kamloops Residential School and counting – in addition to the missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit peoples, and continuous intergenerational trauma.

“I am grateful that my workplace provides a safe space where traditional cultural values and beliefs such as smudging, drumming, and singing can transpire. I was recently overwhelmed with a big dark cloud of sadness walking near the pediatric unit and reflecting on all the little ones that never got to go home from the Kamloops Indian Residential School and so many other Residential Schools,” said Yessica.

“I was unable to attend the ceremony in the community because I was scheduled to work, but during my break I was so very grateful to access the Mamawi Room to drum and sing simultaneously with the community in honour and tribute of the 215 Indigenous little ones that never made it home.”

The Mamawi Room in Connell 6 at the KGH site opened in 2016.This space was designed with input from Indigenous patients who were asking for an area to for culturally important ceremonies such as smudging, circle prayer and singing.

“Wearing my orange scrubs at work that day sparked lots of wonderful heart-felt conversations with patients and staff. June 21st and every day is an opportunity to share teachings and traditions and I am glad when staff and patients are curious and ask questions. 

“I am happy to be connected to a community of caring individuals at KHSC where we can learn from each other. I appreciate KHSC for its commitment to diversity, inclusion and a healthy work environment where I can be me – my authentic self.”

When she is not in her role as a Nursing Support Assistant at KHSC, Yessica is the VP of Student Life at the St. Lawrence College Brockville campus and she provides private end-of-life and supportive care in the community. She is also the founder and heart of Ollin.ca, an organization which offers artistic, cultural, and wellness based events, festivals, and other services within and around the Kingston and Ottawa area.

Published by KingstonKHSC – https://kingstonhsc.ca/khscconnect/news/people-khsc-yessica-rivera-belsham

Today, we will be celebrating the Brockville Class of 2021! Please join us in congratulating our Graduates!

Below is the link to the event. The link is also available on the St. Lawrence College website.

You can view the digital Brockville Class of 2021 Convocation program by clicking

Brockville Class of 2021 Convocation Kick-off Party and Virtual Ceremony

The Convocation Kick-off Party will begin at 5:30pm.

This is a live, fun, virtual event at which you’ll be able to chat with graduates. You are encouraged to shout out to graduates and share your favourite moments. 

  • President and CEO, Glenn Vollebregt will welcome guests and graduates with some inspiring words and some fun interactive activities. 
  • Congratulatory videos from College Staff and Faculty (pre-recorded)
  • Graduates will be welcomed to the Alumni
  • Graduates will engage in some trivia with some amazing prizes!  Make sure you cheer them on in the chat!
  • Following the trivia, graduates will be ‘virtually ushered’ into the Convocation Ceremony by the Student Administrative Council. 

The Virtual Convocation Ceremony will begin at 6:00pm.

We can’t wait to see you celebrating the Class of 2021!

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY

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June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The Canadian Constitution recognizes these three groups as Aboriginal peoples, also known as Indigenous peoples.

Date: June 3, 2021

This week Dean Doug Roughton and Executive VP Rebecca Bax raised the pride flags at the Brockville campus.