Yesterday Christiane and I were a bit lazy. Earlier in the week we had celebrated Reconciliation Week with our local Seniors group. Yesterday, we spent an afternoon watching on television the ceremonies and programs from Ottawa on Parliament Hill.
When Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair, the Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of Canada delivered the report to the Canadian Parliament he made the following statement: “We have delivered to you a mountain. We have shown a way to the top, but we call upon you to do the climbing.”
As always, he was wise.
Last year, after the 2nd National Day of Reconciliation I was filled with the spirit. When I saw the Seniors’ Centre in Steinbach filled with white seniors wearing orange shirts, I was shocked by how far we had come as a country. I was proud. I am still proud. Steinbach has come a long way. This year there were not as many participants. Perhaps there has been some compassion fatigue. That is too bad, though it is understandable. We must remember we have only made a start on the way to reconciliation. We have just started a long journey. We must not quit now. We still have a long way to go. We can’t stop now. We are nowhere near the summit.
I really enjoyed the performance from Ottawa of Ry Moran’s song “Feel you.” This song was played as a large group of indigenous people carried a very long banner that listed every known person who died in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. There were approximately 4, 100 names on that list. Many more died but the names are not known. This was our history in this country. It was deeply moving.
I also really enjoyed the performance of a Mítchif singer song writer Willows. The song was called, ‘T’wé chu-il. Another highlight, was Mi’Kmaq singer song writer Emma Stone who performed her song was “Honour Song” which she sang in her own native language. Each year I attend such a national holiday I am impressed at how many indigenous people are trying to reclaim their native language. Each year there seems to be more. Finally, Oji-Cree performer sang his song “We were here,’ and was joined by other performers as he sang.
I also saw a sign a listener carried: “Indigenous children desire to become indigenous adults.”
A Residential School Survivor told us this about her residential school: “It was a very scary place filled with sadness…but we were there for one another…we had no words…but today I see change.”
One of the participants read part of a letter from Bishop Grandin of Winnipeg to the government of Canada about the Roman Catholic Residential schools in Manitoba:
“If you bring us 100 Indians and half-breeds to the mission convent, when they leave they will no longer be Indians. They will be become good citizens, earn a just living, and be useful to the country.”
It really was an inspiring day. I wish more Canadians participated, but I was happy to see so many who did.