Every year for the past six years the community at Immanuel, Wetaskiwin has planted a Heart Garden. The garden was started by the parish in 2015 as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is the community’s way of honouring and remembering the children who went to Residential Schools and, especially, remembering the children who died and did not return home. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the parish has sent activity packages to family households so they can safely make their hearts at home and bring them to plant in the garden.
This year, the act of planting the garden with homemade hearts and lovely flowers has been especially sad and difficult with the news of the discovery of 215 children, some as young as three, in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. People who have made hearts, on their own or with their children and grandchildren, have expressed devastation over their realisation this won't be the last discovery of a hidden graveyard and missing children.
The parish of Immanuel remains committed to working towards reconciliation with Indigenous folks and especially with their neighbours in Maskwacis through community outreach projects.