After nearly three years of dedicated effort by current and former Cardston High School Blackfoot students and their teacher Kara Baldwin, phase one of the Riverside Healing Garden and monument was unveiled in Cardston on June 19, 2021. Earlier this spring, a few students and Mr. Garry Fox met with Blood Tribe Elders Arnold Mountain Horse and Rod First Rider at the site for a blessing ceremony.
The monument and Healing Garden honours the surrounding Blackfoot community and was conceptualized in 2018 after students learned about the devastating Baker Massacre in 1870 that resulted in the death of over 200 peaceful Blackfoot individuals by the United States Army in Montana. This event is not well known, and students felt that it was essential to create a way to help educate people about this and all of the tragedies and trauma that Blackfoot people have endured in the past, including residential schools.
The inscription on the monument reads:
“Let this be a space to remember and honour Aapaitsitapi (The Weasel People: The Blood People).
Victims of Residential Schools: Those who survived and those who died.
A space in remembrance of those lost during the Baker Massacre.
A space to provide education around the continuation of life, Indigenous ways of continuing relationships and a visible sign of the community’s commitment to walk in right relations with First Nation, Metia and Inuit people and with all nations.
Bringing forth some of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action."
Over the past three years, the design team (made up of former CHS students Kaydence Bird, Nicky Gros Ventre Boy, Cashius Hungry Wolf, Barry Iron Shirt, Avery Many Bears, Tommy Russell, Brody Scout, Acacia Soop, Sineese Twigg, Kobe Shot Both Sides, and Maddy Tailfeathers) and the fundraising team (made up of current CHS students Kiara Rabbit, Hunter Heavy Runner, Jonathan Oka, and Stran Wells) with support from Mrs. Kara Baldwin, Mr. Garry Fox, Mayor Kronen, Jeff Shaw, and Angel Isaac spent a great deal of time consulting with Elders from the Blackfoot community, inviting feedback from interested parties and seeking funding for the project. With support from the Town of Cardston and their grant writing, the Westwind School Division, and personal donations, the group was finally able to raise enough money for the monument.
In attendance for the unveiling of the monument were the students who designed and worked on the fundraising for the project, Elders from the Blackfoot Community, representatives from the Blood Tribe Chief and Council, and descendants of Natohkyiaaki (Holy Bear Woman), who was one of the survivors of the Baker Massacre. Representatives from the Town of Cardston and Westwind School Division and several local religious leaders and community members were also in attendance. The unveiling ceremony included a prayer, guest speakers, a blessing song, and a round dance.
The garden and additional informational plaques will be developed as funds become available.
WATCH THE UNVEILING CEREMONY: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zZnoAfi1_M8&feature=youtu.be