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Giving his heart to the cause

Edmund Saunders carved this heart to be part of the Heart Garden at Government House in St. John's. It represents the legacy of the TRC.
Edmund Saunders carved this heart to be part of the Heart Garden at Government House in St. John's. It represents the legacy of the TRC. - Contributed

Hopedale artist makes Labradorite heart for Government House in honour of his sister Loretta Saunders

HOPEDALE, N.L. —

ST. JOHN'S – Edmund Saunders has carved many things through the years but a project he just finished has a special place in his heart.

Saunders was commissioned by Government House to make a Labradrorite heart for the Heart Garden that opened in St. John’s in October 2018. The garden is to honour children lost in residential  schools and the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC). 

Edmund Saunders made the heart in memory of his sister Loretta, who was murdered in Halifax in 2014.
Edmund Saunders made the heart in memory of his sister Loretta, who was murdered in Halifax in 2014.

For Saunders, the part of the TRC that spoke to him most is the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). His family spoke at the inquiry about his sister, Loretta Saunders, who was murdered in 2014.

“I put my love for Loretta into that heart,” Saunders told the Labrador Voice from his home in Hopedale. “It was something I wanted to do because now I made my contribution to my sister’s cause and it will be there forever.”

His only other role in the MMIW was his testimony and that wasn’t something that made him feel good; it hurt him more than anything else, he said. Now he has this to contribute, which he hopes can help others heal like it helped him heal.

“It’s something that people can see and be reminded this is a problem, that our women and people matter and this still happens,” he said.

He shied away from talking publicly about what happened to Loretta following his testimony, he said, seeing how much it hurt his parents to keep talking about it. This opportunity gave him a chance to reflect upon what happened and contribute in his way.

"I'm very honoured to do it, a lot of love went into that heart," he said.

There are currently over 100 Heart Gardens across Canada and the one in St. John’s is the only one at a Government House. The Labradorite heart will be unveiled later this month.

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