By Louise Smith
Rev. David Lefneski of Emmanuel United Church, in Cowansville, led a gathering outside of the church in the cemetery on Sunday. It was to honour the children whose lives were lost while attending residential schools. Rev. Lefneski spoke in both English and French.
Under the direction of Susan Reininger, three Indigenous songs were performed by the musical team of the church. Echo and Honour Parent-Racine, sisters of Mohawk descent, spoke in English and French about the meaning and ritual of smudging. Anyone who wanted to participate in the smudging was welcomed to partake of the passage of the smoke with a feather to cleanse the mind and body.
Close to 40 people came to watch the ceremony and several others stopped to watch from the sidewalk. Post cards had been prepared to send to the national government in Ottawa after the election urging that clean water be a priority for all First Nations communities.
After the ceremony, Echo Parent-Racine was awarded two bursaries from both the local Fordyce branch of the Women’s Institutes of Quebec and the Missisquoi County level of the Women’s Institutes of Quebec. Echo is taking her second Masters degree from McGill University. She is a former student of Heroes’ Memorial and Massey-Vanier High School.