Vancouverites honour third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Posted September 30, 2023 9:05 pm.
Last Updated October 5, 2023 12:07 pm.
This article contains details that may be distressing to some readers. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society operates a 24-hour crisis line to support survivors and families across the country. The Lamathut Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-721-0066.
A sea of orange shirts flooded Trout Lake Park on Saturday in East Vancouver, as part of a healing ceremony held on the third annual National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous attendees gathered to learn about what took place in the residential school system in Canada.
Speakers from Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society held a ceremony of healing for those hurt by the residential school system where many Indigenous children in Canada were sent from the 17th century until the late 1990s.
The ceremony focused on the children who never made it home, and the ones who have yet to be found because they were buried in unmarked graves.
At 2:15 p.m., a moment of silence was held to acknowledge the 215 unmarked graves discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in 2021.
Andrea Burrell, president of the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society, says her grandmother went to residential school, where she was stripped of her culture.
Her family was only allowed to speak English at home. Burrell says being unable to participate in time honoured traditions has impacted her sense of belonging as an Indigenous woman.
“I was very emotional about it,” Burrell said. “Because I grew up in a Christian home where we weren’t allowed (to participate in these traditions).”
Lavita Trimble’s parents were both residential school survivors and she says listening to them speak about their experiences has stayed with her.
“My dad told me, when tears rolled down his eyes. The statement that stuck with me was him remembering the friends he would never see again,” Trimble said.
Trimble wore a sweater to the ceremony with photos of her late parents, which she says is a reminder of how the schooling system forced foreign beliefs onto her family.
“It wasn’t until the later nineties that I started finding who I am because of the ceremonies and culture, and that really resonated with me,” Trimble said. “It helped me maintain and sustain my mental health.”
Tony Robinson, CEO of Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society, says reconciliation is about educating those who don’t know about the painful past.
He says it’s important for everyone to listen and learn.
“The second generation such as myself has seen the suffering our parents, aunts and uncles went through with residential school,” Robinson said. “Everyone has their own story and it’s all about teaching non-First Nations that we are all here as one.”