(Vancouver, BC) This week September 18-21 is the Truth and Reconciliation National Event aboriginal people in BC with a number of events planned. This event provides an opportunity for those affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools to share their experiences with the Commission and the public. This event is described as a time of national healing.
BC Metis Federation board member Joe Desjarlais attended the historic event on September 18 which included the host nations, Aboriginal organizations, residential school survivors, churches, representatives from all levels of government, commissioners, elders, and people from all around the world watching online. Over 5000 people witnessed the event to hear the experiences of those who attended the residential schools, including Metis survivors present, to bear witness to the legacy of the residential schools and to celebrate Aboriginal culture.
BCMF executive member Joe Desjarlais stated, “tears flowed freely as stories were told in honor of the survivors. At one point, 5000 people shouted out loud in the Musqueam language, ‘ we are all one heart and one mind’. It was amazing!”
In his speech, Assembly of First Nation (AFN) National Chief Shawn Atleo thanked people who came to learn about the history and to acknowledge the survivors. He stated that “the path to reconciliation will be built on telling the truth, and by honoring those truths will we see and recognize one another”
Premier Christy Clark acknowledged the survivors and their incredible courage. The Premier also stated that “we have a chance to watch them heal, but also to heal ourselves and to change.”
Justice Murray Sinclair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission described the event as demonstrating how a national conversation can take place. His words invoked a sense of responsibility as he talked about the ongoing process of healing and “coming to terms with ourselves.” In his words, “we will point the way forward in the direction in where more truths will lie.”
One First Nations elder stated with quiet conviction and courage that the “murder of our people is still going on today” as she referred to those First Nations people living close to the oil projects who are beset with cancer.
BCMF board member Joe Desjarlais concluded, “This was an emotional day with experiences I will never forget. The theme of ‘honesty’ spoke to me about building a new way forward through conversation and ‘remembering’ that brings healing for past injustice and continues to ‘speak truth’ to injustice in policy designed to marginalize and assimilate. An event like this gives us the courage to insist that dignity and respect inform our relationship.”
For more information about the BC Métis Federation please review the website please at www.bcmetis.com.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis
[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Press-Release-September-19th-2013-Truth-and-Reconciliation.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Press Release in PDF[/ilink]