An orange ribbon display honouring Indigenous children who died at residential schools is still dealing with vandalism.
Joyce Crone says this is the eighth time the Hope Arises display has been defaced since it was put up in Huntsville’s River Mill Park last July, after 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at a Kamloops residential school.
According to Crone, the ribbons were removed sometime in the past week, which led her to believe the town had removed the installation. However, she says a quick call to town staff confirmed that an unknown person had neatly taken down most of the display.
Crone, who is Mohawk, says she’s still baffled that someone would vandalise a memorial symbolizing hope and healing.
“What does it mean to take ribbons down to you, nothing?” says Crone. “It means everything to Indigenous People who live in this community and who live on nearby reserves, because we feel that this is our community as well. Because we’re not going away, and if you’re going to do that, we will have a response.”
The problem isn’t unique to Huntsville. In September, orange ribbons were torn down at Bracebridge Falls. In October, Crone says a Gravenhurst couple had their property defaced after putting up ribbons Crone gave to them.
“We have faced vandalism before, so it’s just trying to understand what it means, why it’s happening, and what we can do to change what is happening,” says Crone. “We’re not backing down, and we’ll stand our ground until there’s no vandalism in any of our Muskoka communities.”
Crone adds that she plans to keep putting the ribbons up, “until all the children have been unearthed.” She says police are aware of the frequent vandalism, and asks anyone who might have seen the acts happen to reach out to the OPP, as well as town staff.