LAC LA BICHE - The Cardinal family home in Lac La Biche along 103 Street is one of many homes and businesses across the Lakeland with Orange Shirt displays in their windows. Nicole Cardinal and her three kids, however, have added a small, child-size tipi to their front yard display,. The new addition, discreet and small as it may be, has drawn a lot of attention
Cardinal, who is Indigenous, says they've even had people stop by their house, ring their doorbell and ask to get a photo with their yard display.
The tipi is highlighted with the four colours of the medicine wheel, representing the directions and people of the world. The tipi and a window full of orange shirt artwork has been on display since July 1 in recognition of the history, and ongoing trauma, caused by Canada's residential school system. It's not a large display — but it has caught the attention of many passers-by.
That attention, which Cardinal admits has been surprising, brings awareness to the children who suffered through that system and the ones who died in it.
"People see it, they talk about it, they remember... that was the reason we did it," she said, adding that the creation of the display and their own research also helped to educate her own kids who are 12, 15 and 17. "They asked questions and it helped them to really understand what happened."
Cardinal's own grandmother went to a residential school and her mother was a student in the community schools that many residential schools became.
"It's a history that families need to share and we need to share with others," said Cardinal, hoping that the display continues to help share those messages . "I hope it shows everybody to be proud of who they are."
Cardinal said any and all efforts to bring awareness to the "brutal facts" of Canada's residential school system are important.
"We cannot forget what Canada was," she said.
National events and local
The Cardinal family, like many others across the Lakeland and the county will be taking time to reflect, remember and continue the awareness on September 30, the newly designated National Day for Truth and Reconcilliation.
In the Lac La Biche area, the newly created day will be honoured with a small ceremony hosted by Lac La Biche County at the Bold Center starting at noon.
Cardinal has no plans to take down the tipi, but says she may add more to it.
"I would like to have it there always so the children are not forgotten," she said, adding that her family may add some painted orange hands to the tipi cover in the next few weeks.