Hundreds of community members walked and raised funds for the Mohawk Village Memorial Park at the blue track in Ohsweken on Saturday.
Mohawk Institute Residential School survivors have been working tirelessly for years to raise enough funds for a memorial park to be built right beside the former Mohawk institute (now the Woodland Cultural Centre) on Mohawk Street in Brantford.
The memorial park is being constructed to honour former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School students who attended the school as children. The park will span five acres on the grounds of the former Residential School at 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford, Ontario.
The Mohawk Institute was Canada’s oldest operating residential school. The schools were created in an attempt to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian life and many students reported various forms of abuse at the church-run schools.
The Mohawk Institute, also known as the Mushhole, closed down in 1971.
The Mohawk Village Memorial Park is intended to be a place of remembrance where the human dignity of each of the thousands of survivors of the Mohawk Institute may be recognized and honoured.
The park will be open to all individuals, families, communities and those wishing to visit the park. Included in the park will be memorials, walking paths and decorative landscaping as well as a variety of accessible park features including:
-Fire Pit/Stage Area
-Children’s Play Area
-Water Feature/pond area
I ran from the “Mushhole” to Six Nations for the second time on Saturday to help raise funds for this initiative.
It was 23.5 km total from the Mushhole to the blue track in Ohsweken.
I did this run on very little sleep. I was already exhausted after a very long week.
Imagine how the children felt trying to run home from that hellhole every day. Malnourished. Cold. Tired. Hungry. The kids just wanted to come home.
I could only imagine the fear they felt trying to escape that place of torment to get back home. I felt alone and a bit scared myself traversing that lonely country road myself Saturday afternoon, during the day and with cars passing by frequently. Doing it alone, as a kid, or at night (to avoid getting caught and forced to return) must have been terrifying.
Survivors greeted me with cheers when I finally arrived at the park and I was very grateful to see a bowl of corn soup offered to me at the community hall after such an exhausting run.
In the future, survivors have talked about organizing a large community run, bike, relay from the Woodland Cultural Centre to Ohsweken but they said they need more volunteers to help plan such an initiative.
A live fundraiser online has raised over $1,000 of its $25,000 goal and will remain active until March 2024.
Anyone wishing to donate to the park’s construction can visit www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/mohawk-village-memorial-park/p2p/ParkRun2023/