Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad will participate in a Walk for Reconciliation tomorrow, joining thousands of British Columbians in a shared commitment to reconciliation and healing.
The Walk for Reconciliation is the culmination of Reconciliation Week, as proclaimed by the Government of British Columbia, from Sept. 16-22, 2013.
The proclamation acknowledges the important work of Reconciliation Canada, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It also acknowledges the injustices and harm experienced by the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and their families - and the need for continued healing.
Rustad joined Indian Residential School survivors at several events this week, including the sixth national event held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the Pacific National Exhibition on Wednesday. The commission invited former students to share truths about their experiences at Indian Residential Schools, and invited British Columbians to witness and support the resilience of Aboriginal cultures.
Rustad also participated in an All Nations Canoe Gathering, a Sunrise Ceremony and the Lighting of a Sacred Fire.
The Walk for Reconciliation starts in downtown Vancouver and is followed by a historic celebration at BC Place. Participants can assemble at Queen Elizabeth Plaza, at the junction of W. Georgia and Hamilton streets, beginning at 8:30 a.m. A welcome ceremony will take place from 9:15 to 10 a.m., with the walk starting immediately after.
The New Way Forward Celebration at BC Place begins at 10:45 a.m., directly following the walk. The stadium, which will be transformed into a Ceremonial House for the day, will include entertainment by Canadian artists, dialogue and storytelling by participants, educational activities and multicultural foods. Formal proceedings and entertainment are scheduled to begin at noon.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation -
"Today represents a coming together and healing of many people, survivors and their family members, young and old, as well as non-Aboriginal people - to begin creating a new foundation of respect, acceptance and renewed faith in each other."
"Walking together in reconciliation is part of our collective journey and an opportunity for all of us to make our individual contribution to healing the terrible wound left behind by Indian Resident Schools."
- On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of all Canadians, offered a historic formal apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools and sought forgiveness for the students' suffering and for the damaging impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
- Indian Residential Schools operated from the 1870s until 1996, when the last school was closed. This covers more than five generations of Aboriginal people.
- More than 150,000 children, some as young as four years of age, attended government-funded, church-run residential schools. It is estimated that some 80,000 survivors are still alive today.
- Reconciliation Week, hosted by Reconciliation Canada and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), offers us a significant opportunity toward healing the trauma and lasting impacts of Indian Residential Schools.
- Reconciliation Canada is a B.C.-based charity led by B.C. First Nations with the support of the First Nations Leadership Council, the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council, and the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society.
- Established in 2008, the TRC is one of the components of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which was negotiated by the Government of Canada, Aboriginal organizations, the churches and former students. Its purpose is to create a lasting, positive legacy of the stories and experiences of Indian Residential School survivors.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has organized seven national events across Canada, including one in Vancouver from Sept. 18-21.
- The Walk for Reconciliation is loosely based on a series of walks sponsored by Reconciliation Australia in 2000.
- Participants in the New Way Forward Celebration will be invited to accept a call to action and commit to their own reconciliation action plans.
The B.C. proclamation for Reconciliation Week is available at: www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/oic/2013%20Proclamations/default.htm
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: www.trc.ca
Reconciliation Canada: http://reconciliationcanada.ca
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation