A Historic Moment
This is a historic moment for all of us. 2017 is a year of significant reflection as we recognize 150 years since Canadian confederation. 2017 comes amidst a period of heightened social awareness and momentum around reconciliation, including the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in 2015, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our recently released National Narrative on Reconciliation Report. Now is a critical time to embrace reconciliation.
“Canada 150” alludes to two vastly different narratives and holds different meanings to the people in Canada. As we know, Canada’s history stretches much longer than the 150 years since Canadian confederation and as we stand here in this time and place, we reflect that there is a broken relationship amongst us that needs nurturing. From the creation of the Indian Act and the legacy of the residential school system felt by generations of Indigenous communities, there is a deep wound within our people that needs to be addressed. That is why we are all here—to continue initiating conversation with all of the people in our country to bring reconciliation to the forefront. If we can all reconcile ourselves as human beings, we hold the hope that the next 150 years will be brighter.
Over the past few years, Reconciliation Canada has engaged with Canadians across the Nation to bring reconciliation to the forefront from coast to coast to coast. We have held National Reconciliation Gatherings in Vancouver, Membertou, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Whitehorse and Montreal. With each initiative, we hope to expand perspectives and understandings of reconciliation and provide a space that allows for individual transformation and renewed relationships.
On September 22nd 2013, Reconciliation Canada hosted the first Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver and 70,000 people braved the pouring rain to walk in support for reconciliation. We heard from many of the survivors that attended the walk that they were brought to tears by the immense support that their communities displayed. Additionally, in 2015 Reconciliation Canada, in partnership with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, held the second Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa.
Earlier this year, Reconciliation Canada conducted the National Narrative Report on Reconciliation. The results of this national report revealed that Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians are in agreement on a number of aspects about reconciliation, notably the value of acknowledging the contribution that Indigenous peoples make to Canadian society, the need to provide greater opportunity and equality for Indigenous people, as well as the need for reconciliation. Following this report, we hosted the National Thought Table which gathered Thought Leaders from across the nation to share their perspectives on a range of issues regarding reconciliation. We also hosted “In the Sprit of Reconciliation: An Intergenerational Gathering”, where spiritual leaders, elders and youth gathered to reflect on the spiritual aspect of reconciliation. All of our engagement this year has been leading up to our signature Canada 150+ event—The Walk for Reconciliation.
Walk for Reconciliation 2017
This September 24th, we will once again gather together in the streets of downtown Vancouver to walk for reconciliation and highlight the intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools, as well as honor survivors and intergenerational survivors. The Walk for Reconciliation is designed to raise awareness and help every participant see how reconciliation is relevant to them. The event highlights the unique history and cultures of the city and it is an event for people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and faiths. The act of walking and sharing our stories can join us all in a shared commitment to creating a new way forward in our relationships.
This year, we hope to match our previous participation numbers and display our support for the reconciliation movement. We will begin our walk at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, walk across the viaducts, end in Strathcona Park. The route will be two kilometers long and is welcome to all.
The Walk for Reconciliation will culminate in Strathcona park where we will be hosting the first Reconciliation Expo! At the Expo, there will be community booths which will include information regarding reconciliation, experiential cultural activities, and a range of presentations from community groups, indigenous organizations, and multicultural groups. Additionally, there will be an area dedicated to local artisans, a place for children to play educational games, a space for Indigenous craft making, as well as a variety of Vancouver based food-trucks serving ethnically diverse foods. On the main stage there will be captivating performances including live singing, dancing and various displays of local artwork and most notably, there will be an address from a keynote speaker.
Walk with us
We urge Indigenous peoples across this country to attend the Walk for Reconciliation as a celebration of strength and resilience. By displaying openness, generosity and love, Indigenous peoples in Canada will continue to show leadership in the reconciliation movement. In return, we can be met with open hearts and minds when discussing past and present inequalities that we must work towards amending.
We extend our hand to you to join us for the Walk for Reconciliation in the spirit of ‘Namwayut—we are all one. On September 24th, we invite you to join us to walk for the missing, for those who have gone, for loved ones, for justice, and for healing. We will walk to remember the intergenerational lives taken, to honour survivors and to acknowledge those impacted by the Indian residential school system. Together, we will walk for reconciliation.
How we build relationships today affects our next generations. We can all take this monumental opportunity to embrace a space for openness and real dialogue to create a mutual vision for the future based on the values of justice and equality for all. In doing so, we recognize our common humanity and the shared hopes and aspirations we have for the place we live.
How to get involved
If you would like to further become involved with Reconciliation Canada and receive the most up to date information regarding the Walk and our other initiatives, we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter. Additionally, you can follow this link to sign up as an individual or as a team member for the Walk, or go to www.reconciliationcanada.ca to sign up to volunteer or donate. Follow us on social media by searching @Rec_Can on twitter, @reconciliationcanada on Instagram, and Reconciliation Canada on Facebook. Feel free to tweet us and share your photos and comments with us as we would love to hear from you!