Yukon First Nation builds residential school memorial
Ross River Dena Council's bronze prayer circle to be used for healing, teaching
The Ross River Dena Council in Yukon has begun construction of a prayer circle memorial dedicated to members who attended residential school.
Dr. Richard Herbert, the project co-ordinator, said the permanent circle will have a central fire pit along with a memorial plaque bearing the names of those sent to residential school.
Four bronze drums will be placed along the four prayer directions of north, east, south and west, and the inner surface of each drum will have an image of children before, during, after and when healed from residential schooling.
The bronze memorial is intended to be used as a cultural venue for healing by survivors and their families, and for teaching children about the residential school system and its legacy. It will be located at the "Old Ross" site, where the Ross River people lived before Indian Affairs moved them across the river.
"Basically there was a forced relocation," Herbert said. "People went out hunting in the fall and when they came back, their village wasn't there anymore. It had been pushed over by the government onto the south side that had access by road."
The memorial will cost $50,000 and is funded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s commemoration initiative. The work is scheduled to be complete by March.