Orange Shirt Day pin project underway

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Lana Parenteau, Chatham-Kent’s Indigenous Peer Navigator, shows off one of her Orange Shirt Day pins with the support of members of Come Together CK.

Come Together CK (CTCK) and Lana Parenteau, Chatham-Kent’s Indigenous Peer Navigator, are coming together to honour National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, is to honour the children who survived Indian Residential Schools and remember those who did not. Many Canadians across the country wear an orange shirt.

“Takwihleew” means “come together” in Lenape (Moraviantown’s language). Parenteau created the Takwihleew Orange Shirt Pins.

Parenteau of Moraviantown, Delaware First Nation, walks beside 88 of Chatham-Kent’s most struggling Indigenous.  She helps them find a safe place to stay, get food from the food bank, attend doctor appointments and many other supportive undertakings. She is committed to truth and reconciliation work in our community.

It is because of her family’s experiences in Residential Schools and her own as this history continued into the 1960s, that Parenteau feels people need to know this part of Canadian history that was never talked about.

Parenteau started making pins a few years ago. Last year, with her granddaughter Sky, she felt compelled to make even more pins when the bodies of 215 children were recovered at Kamloops Residential School. Since then, thousands of citizens from all walks of life in our community have joined her in making, sharing and wearing the pins.

“It has become a project for all of us, just as it is our shared history,” Parenteau said in a media release. “Together we learn, we all have something to learn, so whatever the pin means to you at this moment is right. Together we heal, and what better way to start than to craft together? Similar to how everyone is in a different spot in their healing journey, there is no wrong way to design your pins. As we craft, talk, learn and grow, maybe it will start toward learning the truth so we can have reconciliation.”

“Our history, our present moment and these pins belong to everyone,” said Brent Wilken, Executive Director, CTCK. “Make as many pins as you would like; pass along as many pins or pin kits as you would like.”

This year CTCK will partner with Chatham-Kent Public Library. All 11 locations have pin-making kits available for pick up. Once pins are made, they can be brought back to the library for distribution, or kept by the maker to give out to their own community of friends and family.

Pins and pin kits are also available by visiting the Community Shop at the Downtown Chatham Centre (old Sears Receiving area), by e-mailing info@cometogetherck.ca or visiting @ComeTogetherCK on Facebook.
Also supporting Parenteau’s Truth and Reconciliation efforts in Chatham-Kent is local business Planet Print. Orange shirts are available for purchase at Planet Print (46B Richmond Street – behind McDonalds) or the Community Shop in the DCC for $25, with proceeds going to the Lana’s efforts.

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