A vehicle driving around Stratford might catch your eye this summer – and that’s exactly the point.
Aulora Buffalo’s black Honda CRV has been hitting the pavement covered in orange hand prints and the words “no pride in genocide” in honour of the child remains continuing to be uncovered at former Residential Schools across Canada.
Buffalo explained that her car is eye-catching to say the least, and that’s exactly what she wants.
“We want that image,” Buffalo told StratfordToday. “We want people to think about it, to know, to question. I’ve had question after question every summer I do it, asking what it’s for.”
The goal is to raise awareness of the Indigenous genocide that took place in Canada and the horrors that occurred in Residential Schools, as Buffalo explained.
Residential Schools existed in Canada before Confederation up until the 1990s. During that time, Indigenous children were taken from their homes and were subjected to poor treatment and abuse, among other things.
According to the Government of Canada, thousands of children died while attending in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is describing as a ‘cultural genocide.’ The burial sites of many of those children remain unknown.
Buffalo and her family have been adorning their car for three years now. They started after the first wave of remains were found in Kamloops in May of 2021 and have continued each year since.
The first year Buffalo wrote ‘250 plus’ on her car. The following year she wrote ‘4,500 plus.’ This year she’s not putting a number on the vehicle due to the constantly escalating figure.
Buffalo and her family have a personal connection to the crisis. Buffalo’s paternal great-grandmother was taken to a Residential School with his siblings. As she explained, that experience a few generations ago has caused trauma that lingers even today. She indicated that although this news is history, its effects are still being felt today.
This year they are encouraging the community to get involved with the project and to add their own hand prints to the car.
Buffalo’s wife Lex had the idea to pivot and to bring the community into it, after they saw a little girl speaking to her father about the car and comparing her hand prints to the ones already on the vehicle.
Buffalo and her family are hoping to raise awareness. She says that she has had good and bad responses from the community – some being supportive of the initiative and others being outright confrontational. She said that only indicates how visibility is still needed for the issue.
“It just means that there’s people out there that don’t know the whole story,” she said.
Buffalo is hoping that her car will be covered by Truth and Reconciliation Day, when they will wash off the paint and start over.
There are many hand prints, but there’s still room for more.
“If you see us, come up and add your hand,” Buffalo encouraged. “Be a part of making everybody know about it.”