After hearing the tragic news of the discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children at the former Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, Peter Hernandez, President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Oshawa, felt disturbed. As a father of three young girls, ages 2, 3 and 5, he was immediately hit by the sunken feeling that these children could have been his daughters under different life circumstances. That night he made sure to hug his girls and tell them how much he loved them.
Then his sadness turned to anger. Who would do this to children? What kind of a system would allow for such atrocities? And, how could this have gone unnoticed for generations? Or was it noticed, and as a society we simply looked away.
Peter was distraught as he logged on to his weekly Rotary Club of Oshawa Zoom meeting. The Sergeant at Arms asked for a moment of silence in memory of the Indigenous children. As the meeting progressed he felt comfort in the fellowship and camaraderie of fellow Rotarians as they listened to a Guest Speaker.
Peter waited until the end of the meeting to share his thoughts with the club. He spoke from his heavy heart and from a place of authenticity and optimism instead of from anger. After sharing his personal thoughts regarding the discovery of the 215 children, Peter made a commitment:
I pledge to learn their story.
I pledge to know their pain.
I pledge to make sure they did not die in vain.
I pledge to remember.
I pledge to change the future.
Peter also made a commitment to teach his children so the future learns a history of Canada that was unseen and untold. Afterwards, he made a donation in memory of the 215 Children with the condition that the club apply it in a way that best Honour’s the Children.
For others also looking to make a commitment to learning, healing and reconciliation, consider making the pledge and becoming an Ally.