Brock student-athlete encourages reflection beyond National Day of Truth and Reconciliation – The Brock News

Every time Keelee Hollowell hits the ice with Brock’s women’s hockey team, it comes with an opportunity to reflect on her ancestry.

The sophomore Psychology student, whose family heritage has ties to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, has his goaltender mask repainted with a mix of meaningful imagery close to his heart.

“My back plate is a red dress hanging in a stall to represent the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” she said. “The rest of the helmet depicts the traditional headdress of the Indigenous. I also have my community on the side with the words of the Mohawk Territory.”

Also inscribed on his mask is the name of Maela Sharon Holmes, an 11-year-old goalkeeper from St. Catharines who died suddenly on June 22. The young hockey player was tutored by Hollowell in a goalkeeping training program.

While the helmet often reminds Hollowell to reflect on the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, he wants to encourage others to do the same.

Keelee Hollowell has her goaltender mask repainted with a mix of meaningful imagery close to her heart.

He hopes the Brock community joins him on Friday, September 30 in commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day the University hosted a series of events, honoring and remembering the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were forced away from their families and into the residential school system, where many suffer various forms of abuse.

“Today is special for me because it is an opportunity for the country to honor the memory of all the children we lost and found, and those who are still unaccounted for in unmarked graves in residential schools across Canada,” Hollowell said.

More than 4,100 people are documented dead in the housing school system while unmarked grave sites hold the remains of more than 1,900 undiscovered individuals, according to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Reflecting on what this day means for every Canadian comes to awareness and education, not blame,” Hollowell said. “It’s about acknowledging the past, learning from it and never repeating it in the future. It is important to understand that we need actions, not just words. Actions can be small but have a big impact.”

Hollowell’s great-grandmother, June Jean Powless, was a survivor of the residential school system.

“I never had the chance to meet him, but he is a big reason why I am outspoken about Indigenous matters and why they are close and dear to my heart,” Hollowell said. “Listening to my mother, she said that my great-grandmother never recovered from her time at boarding school.”

Intergenerational trauma needs to be addressed and followed up to get on the road to recovery, says Hollowell.

“The sins committed in the residential school not only have a negative impact on the children, but also their families and subsequent families,” he said. “We need to understand intergenerational trauma and start healing and healing as a nation.”

Hollowell said wearing orange on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – also known as Orange Shirt Day – was a small gesture that carried a big message to raise awareness of the impact of housing schools.

“Having an Indigenous perspective on sport, especially with women in hockey, is an honor and has given me the opportunity to connect with so many individuals,” Hollowell said. “I hope others use this day to take the time to learn about a culture that was once in danger of being erased.”

Hadwin Floyd

"Coffee enthusiast. Hipster-friendly social media fanatic. Certified zombie expert. Problem solver."

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