Celebrated each year on February 14 since 2012, Have a Heart Day is a child and youth-led reconciliation event, initiated by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society), that brings together caring Canadians.
Building on the interest of First Nations child and family services leaders to create a national networking organization, the Caring Society was developed at the Squamish First Nation in 1998 at a national meeting of First Nations child and family service agencies. The Caring Society works to ensure the safety and well-being of First Nations youth and their families through education initiatives, public policy campaigns and providing quality resources to support communities.
For Have a Heart Day Trafalgar students worked on letters to the Prime Minister seeking equality and justice for First Nations children to help ensure they have the opportunity to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy and be proud of who they are. These letters urged the Prime Minister to rethink how we treat First Nations children with messages that were both thoughtful and poignant.
“Rethink how you treat our children,” one student wrote. “Give [First Nations] children the opportunity that allows them to have a peaceful/safe upbringing, a good education and live a healthy life. We should all encourage them to be proud of their culture and express confidence,” urged another.
Other student letters emphasized a need to work towards equality. One letter read “Give Indigenous children fair and equal support, they shouldn’t have to fight for equal rights.” “Please have a heart. First Nations children should not have to fight for services all other Canadians enjoy,” read another.
During Advisor students also went through a timeline of the truth highlighting what inequities still exist, according to the Caring Society. Such as, “Indigenous Women, girls and two-spirited people are more than 12 times more likely to be missing or murdered than non-Indigenous (National Action Plan, 2022)” and “There are still drinking water advisories in First Nations communities (currently 33) (Government of Canada, 2023).” After examining the inequities students discussed actions needed to reconcile these truths as well as what they could do to help.
Participating in Have a Heart Day allowed students to honour the day with their classmates and the greater Trafalgar community.
To learn more about the Caring Society, the work that they’re doing and how to get involved visit their website.