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City of Burnaby revealing concept for first reconciliation crosswalk

Ahead of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Burnaby has unveiled the concept for its first reconciliation crosswalk.

A Coast Salish artist, Atheana Picha, revealed the design featuring Thunderbirds mirroring each other, during a ceremony at Westridge Elementary.

The city partnered up with the district to support the Grade 6/7 class at the school, who came up with the idea.

“One of the things that is so powerful about this project is that the students took their learnings about Truth and Reconciliation and answered the Calls to Action in a way that is meaningful to them, is highly visible and invites the entire community to reflect on their own path to reconciliation,” said Burnaby Board of Education Chair Jen Mezei. “As trustees, we are grateful to the City and artist, and incredibly proud of the work happening in our schools to build understanding, awareness and strengthen the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

Audrey Venner is the class’s teacher and tells CityNews she wants her students to know they can make a difference in the world.

“We really try to empower the students to do more than just do something for themselves. When we take something like this to the next level. I’m hoping it speaks volumes as to what kids can do and what the City can then get on board with when students bring up an idea,” she said.

Grade 7 student Raven Rocha explains the class came up with the idea after learning about the 94 ‘Calls to Action,’ as issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“Crosswalks are used every day by all members in our community. So I thought a crosswalk would be a good place where people could see it and think about it and think about the message of truth and reconciliation,” she said.

The class worked with the District’s Indigenous Education Department and the City helped connect them with Picha, a member of Kwantlen First Nation.

To facilitate the installation, the City is providing $20,000. A $750 grant from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be given to the class to support the project.

The crosswalk will be installed later this summer on a path used by students daily, where Drummond’s Walk Urban Trail crosses Union Street.

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