Eganville -- The community members who tied orange ribbons to the main bridge to commemorate the First Nation children whose bodies were left in unmarked graves have been asked to remove the ribbons by July 30th.
According to Bonnechere Valley Township Mayor Jennifer Murphy she only received one complaint, but understood the municipal office had received a lot.
“When they were first put on the bridge they were really pretty, they were all in bows but of course with all the weather we’ve had, with the heat and the rain… I feel like the lady that’s doing them has to run out every few days and make them look pretty again so that kind of maintenance is a lot when you’re talking about volunteers,” she said.
According to the mayor, there will be a discussion at the August 10th council meeting to “perhaps find a more permanent solution, a mural, a flag… etc.”
Mayor Murphy stressed the importance of consulting the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation Band council.
“I would really like to know what the band council would like,” she said. “This isn’t on our terms, this is on their terms. It’s got to be something that they appreciate.”
As reported by the Leader on June 16th, the orange ribbons adorning the main bridge in Eganville were first placed there by Sherri and Derek Miller on June 9th. The ribbons were displayed to commemorate the First Nation children whose bodies were left in unmarked graves at the Kamloops residential school.
The orange ribbon initiative in the Ottawa Valley was started by Carole Kohoko and her family tying ribbons to the Pikwakanagan bridge mid-June.
Since then, further unmarked graves near former residential schools have been located, including remains of 751 people on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
The colour orange has come to signify reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people, stemming from the story of Phyllis Webstad, who had her orange shirt taken away from her at age 6 when she was first taken to the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School in Williams Lake, BC.
Orange ribbons have also been tied to bridges in Petawawa, Arnprior and Renfrew.
Bonnechere Valley Township council usually meets twice a month, however, during the summer months the schedule is reduced to once per month. Anyone wishing to speak at the BV meeting must register as a delegation prior to the August 10th council meeting. Support is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week for former residential school students and those affected by the news. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be accessed for emotional and crisis referral services at: 1-866-925-4419.
Christina Vietinghoff, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader