When Joyce Crone, a Mohawk woman and retired teacher, heard about the orange “Every Child Matters” ribbons being torn down in Bracebridge, she wasn’t surprised.
Around this time last year, Crone was retying ribbons in Huntsville’s River Mill Park. The Hope Arises project was set up in the park in July 2021 but Crone says almost immediately they dealt with vandalism. “It was a travesty,” she says.
“It got to the point where the police were involved,” she continues. “There were nooses hung in the trees in River Mill Park in Huntsville, our signs were taken down, ribbons thrown in the water, clothes and baby shoes stolen and taken away.”
Last week, Niso Makwa told the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom about how he’s been dealing with a similar problem in Bracebridge. He explains he’s noticed the orange ribbons that he’s tied up along Manitoba St. are often being torn down.
“As an Indigenous woman living in Canada, it angers me,” Crone says.
At first, Makwa says he thought it was just teenagers. Crone says she thought the same. “With the repeated vandalism it became clear that it was racism,” she says.
“We kept putting up our ribbons and stood our ground because it’s honouring the children in this country and, for me, taking a ribbon down is like digging up a grave or knocking over a cemetery stone,” Crone puts it.
“I truly think whoever is doing it in Huntsville and Bracebridge is trying to make a statement,” Crone says. “They’re trying to dishearten those of us who are Indigenous and know the truth, believe the truth and understand it. We can’t back down.”
“This is about survivors and Indigenous people who live on and off reserves who see themselves and are needing to move forward,” Crone says. “How can we move forward when we’re taking three steps back?”
“For each one that is torn down, it’s another opportunity to educate someone else with another ribbon,” Makwa said when asked what he planned to do going forward.
With the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation coming up on Sept. 30, Crone echoes what Makwa said: “We aren’t going to stop.”