These photographs represent the complicated relationship between Catholicism and Indigeneity. The first one is from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, and there are totem poles and old articles from residential schools. The second one is Westminster Abbey in London, with Northern Lights, handprints in the circle detailing and shoes out front. The final one is of the Siena Cathedral in Italy with beaded earring details and current(ish) articles about the unmarked graves.
My great grandfather was a residential school survivor, but was also a very proud Catholic man who found solace in his relationship with God. I, on the other hand, did not grow up religious in any sense. I have had countless conversations with my grandmother about my anger towards the Church for what they have done to Indigenous communities and how it has influenced our family, but it is always met with a heavy sigh and a “it’s more complicated than that.” The bottom line is it is complicated. Of course, the anger towards the Church is completely justified, but this raises a lot of internal struggles for Indigenous peoples that grew up Catholic, which is what I want to emphasize in this piece — the beauty, the anger, the mourning and the re-emergence.