Whispering ‘We are here’
Buried without a ceremony, without a tear
Now’s the time we must make our choices
We must choose to educate all Canadians
Middle school history must talk of this
Every Indigenous person, regardless of their generation
Carries the scars of this painful desecration
Canada, My Canada, What have you done?
Collaborated with the Catholic Church to commit this wrong
This is not the time for us to look away
This is the time to stand tall and stay
We must take a stand to right this wrong
Together we can stand together and stand strong
Education and Recommendations, Call for Action
These scars will be carried forever
However, we can heal if we just work together
“Those were painful and highly emotional days when they were locating the graves.” Mr. Coyle told me in an interview regarding his poem. This poet moved me to tears as he described the little
wooden crosses the elders had hand-made and placed in the ditch all along Highway 5 near Kamloops in honour of the little children being found in the graves. Gordon and his brother Joe
Coyle went to school with some of those little kids from Gr. 1-7. If they release the names of any of the children in the graves, they will be names the brothers know.
Gordon went on to tell me as he spent time there, he could feel something different in the air and he believed in his heart all the “Little Voices” cried out with their spirit energies to the elders, wanting to be found and finally recognized.
He also shared with me, as he wrote this poem that his soul felt the unimaginable horror and tragedy, yet the image of reconciliation in the future gave him some form of hope. He knew he had to do his part any way he could to bring those little voices back to life and this poem was his way of amplification. The line that still brings hot tears and pent-up emotion to Coyle is:
“Canada, Oh Canada…What have you done?”
This is truly the one of the first questions a person will ask when they have been brought up learning the Indigenous ways and culture. For more than a century, they were told to believe in the writings and agreements of Treaty 8. Gordon Coyle’s Great- Grandmother was a woman of Cree descent from Treaty 8 which is one of eleven Treaty areas in Canada and encompasses a landmass of approx. 840,000 KM. It is home to 39 First Nations communities. Treaty 8 was signed June 21st, 1899.
Treaty 8 has long been recognized as the Treaty of Peace. The true spirit of it when signed was peace, law, respect, honesty and acceptance, all while sharing the plentiful resources such as hunting, fishing, forestry, mining and agriculture between Indigenous Peoples and newcomers. For the Indigenous Peoples this Treaty was also intended to secure their right to cultural activities and burial grounds.
It was curious to me that Mr. Coyle pinpointed the Catholic Church in “215 Little Voices”. I asked him why? His response was swift! “Because we were raised in a strict Catholic family and taught to respect each of the 10 Commandments without question. It is beyond understanding and for now, even forgiveness, having witnessed without doubt the proof of what was silently and secretly known to be the actions of his church. After our lengthyand soul-moving conversation, it is truly painful to take in all that has happened. Looking back, I recognize that nothing of Treaty 8 held credence nor was respected by the newcomers who insisted on having it signed.
Mr. Coyle and I went on to discuss what he thought of the now often-used message for “Call to Action”. We both are of the opinion that it can only be effective when ACTION takes place! He added, “Even small actions will propel us into reconciliation and healing, but action needs to start NOW in any form, which includes his heartfelt poem written for the “215 Little Voices”.
There is so much pain and healing yet to be done and Gordon was adamant and firm in his tone when he stated he believed the trip to the Vatican, then having the Pope stand on bloodied soil speaking a genuine apology might be the first of many steps needed to move forward. However, he also added that storytelling is the culture and way of Indigenous Peoples. Coyle stated that only through storytelling and knowing the reality of the painful past, can the future begin to right itself and allow peaceful, plentiful hope to wrap the tortured souls in belief once again.
I say, “Let the Storytellers and Knowledge Keepers speak!”
Mr. Coyle learned to express his thoughts through wordsmithing. Some of his experience and call to write has come from the loss of his own son. Gordon realized as he entered the healing stage of that kind of loss, that his son didn’t have the time in his beautiful life to write his memoirs. He was always busy investing his energy helping others, bringing light and love wherever he was. His smile was radiant and could change a dark day into sunshine. Mr. Gordon Coyle felt the urge to pull from his son’s ability to spread joy and with his own talent put life’s experienced to word. Gordon is a published author and photographer. He has 5 books published and sought after on Amazon.
In closing Gordon said, “We all hold the ability to change the world, perhaps it will be only in small ways, but it all adds up. In years to come it will be those small ways that are the difference makers.”
The following are titles of Mr. Gordon Coyle’s books.
- “Open Road to my Soul”
- “Bits and Pieces”
- “Her Beautiful Soul”