| Jun 07, 2021

Parishioner’s memorial back up at St. James Catholic Church in Sharbot Lake

Pam Giroux, a parishioner at St. James Catholic Church in Sharbot Lake, has re-installed a memorial to the 215 children whose unmarked grave was recently unearthed at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Giroux placed the memorial, that she created with her friend Carole Pepper, in the midst of what she describes as a ‘healing garden’ that she built at St. James 8 years ago when her daughter-in-law was undergoing cancer treatments.

“It is a simple memorial. There are some rubber boots from our grandchildren, indigenous dolls, a couple of dreamcatchers, and a teddy bear that I had at home,” said Giroux.

The memorial was built on Friday, June 4, and on Sunday after mass, Giroux told Father Cyprian Ihedoro, the parish priest, about it

“Father Cyprian told me that he had received instructions from the archbishop telling him that no displays were to be allowed on church property. Of course, I did not want to get Father Cyprian into any kind of trouble, so I took it down.”

Before she took everything away, Giroux took a picture, and the picture made its way onto a local Facebook Page on Monday afternoon (June 7), where it began to be shared.

A couple of hours later, Archbishop Michael Mulhall relented, and Giroux was informed that she could reinstate the items.

“I received a call from Father Cyprian, and he told me that Archbishop was now saying that the memorial could go back up. 

By 7pm on Monday evening, Pam Giroux had put the shoes, dolls, and dreamcatcher back up and was drumming.

She is part of a mixed Settler-Algonquin Women’s Drum Circle, and was playing a travelling song to the memorial after putting it back in place, delivering the final verse with voice only as is traditional in travelling songs.

Soon, her friend Carole Pepper joined her with some fresh sweetgrass from her garden.

“My son told me that it is up to the grandmothers, the settler and indigenous grandmothers, to bring healing at this time,” Giroux said, “maybe he is right.”

In another development that has upset St. James’ parishioners, a statue of The Virgin Mary, which had been placed on a small pedestal in front of the church, disappeared sometime between Friday afternoon, (June 4) when the memorial was installed the first time, and Sunday morning (June 6).

The statue has been located in front of the church for a number of years.

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