OLDS — A group of local residents has set up a way for people to show their sympathy and support for Indigenous people struggling with the discovery of more than 1,300 unmarked graves near residential schools across the country.
Little pieces of notepaper cut in the shape of shirts have been left in the teepee set up at the Olds College wetlands. People are encouraged to go there, write a supportive note on those sheets and attach it to the inside of the teepee.
Or they can write their own notes ahead of time and bring them there.
When the teepee is taken down in the fall, all the notes will be gathered and shared with local Indigenous people.
The program has only been running since July 12, but already lots of notes have been written, says Nicola Hollamby, an instructor at Olds College who is looking after the program and the teepee.
Hollamby said because there’s no residential school in Olds or reserve close by it’s difficult for people to show their sympathy and support.
“It’s a small, tangible way that people can show support, right? Because lots of people want to know, ‘what can we do? What can we do,” Hollamby said during an interview.
Hollamby is pleased with the quick uptake the program has received.
“Different people have sent me pictures and stuff and say ‘look how many more shirts are hanging’ and all this sort of thing. So yeah, I think it’s picking up," she said.
“I think as people learn about it, it’s a step they can take if they choose.”
Hollamby was asked if the notes of hope will become an annual program.
"I do not believe this will be an annual event, but that will depend on what the community members decide and what else is going on in the teepee at the time," she said.