Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Picnic stop

This picnic area was originally conceived as part of a commemorative installation to make reparations for the government's 1950's policy of placing Doukhobor kids in reform school. Scores of kids who were living in a communal Doubkhobor community 100 km south of here, being educated within their community rather than within public schools, were apprehended for truancy and brought to New Denver to be forced into residential schooling. Their parents were allowed to see them on Sundays through a chain-link fence. The journey up the valley was often gruelling and could take many hours. It was forced cultural assimilation. There was resistance, at times violent.

The fractured picnic table is symbolic of the fracturing of families that occurred. The picnic area is lovely and well-tended. Unfortunately the reparations process broke down and this gesture left many survivors feeling unsatisfied and insulted. So there's no plaque, no explanation. Only an unusual pair of picnic tables.

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