It has been a year since a couple from Attawapiskat travelled to Ottawa on a mission to heal some of the scars left by residential schools.


Jackie Hookimaw-Witt applied for and received a $50,000 grant from the federal Truth and Reconciliation Fund to create the stained glass windows. Each window has an animal depicting the six Cree seasons and other images, including families smoking fish, and contact with early missionaries. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Their journey took them to an art studio that teaches people how to make stained glass.

Afterwards, Jackie Hookimaw-Witt and her husband Norbert Witt went back home to Attawapiskat and taught the craft to others.

"The church is like a central station where people meet, it's a social institution," Hookimaw-Witt said.

"We thought it would be an ideal place where we could work on the project where it brings people together and it brings healing together."

They have now replaced all of the church windows with Cree-inspired scenes made of stained glass.

The change is seen as a way of healing some of the wounds left by residential schools.

"It's something positive, healing and creative and we want to show ... that spirituality is important and people are still strong Catholics,"  Hookimaw-Witt added.

She said her 80-year-old parents and four of her siblings spent their childhood in residential schools. She said her parents paddled 150 kilometres to see their children in a Fort Albany school.

Click on the audio player to hear more of their story.