As the announcement was made with great emotion, so will the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation be recognized in Prince George on Sept. 30 at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park from 2 to 3 p.m.
“We will do our part to help advance the journey on the road to reconciliation by hosting the event,” Chief Dolleen Logan said during a news conference held earlier this month at the Lheidli T’enneh First Nations office. “We will have a period of silence at 2:15 to acknowledge the 215 unmarked graves that were found in Kamloops last year.”
National Day for Truth & Reconciliation is a very tough day for Indigenous people all across Canada, Logan added.
“There isn’t an Indigenous nation, community or family which is not touched by the horrors that occurred in Canada’s residential schools between the mid-1800s and the early 1990s,” Logan said. “And we must realize before we can have reconciliation we must have the truth. The truth is getting out there and people are starting to realize what kind of effect residential schools had on our communities and it’s a chapter Canadian history that must never be forgotten.”
The Canadian government states the day was created to ‘honour the lost children and survivors of the residential schools, their families and communities,’ she added.
“I ask that everyone do some research – the truth is out there so please open your ears, open your hearts and listen to the experiences of our elders because it’s time for reconciliation,” Logan said, who has many family members who were forced to attend residential school and are now survivors.
“I share my family’s stories with my grandchildren and we cry,” Logan said. “And that’s part of the healing.”
Logan shared a story about how her mother was at residential school and one of her chores was to set the tables at mealtime. There was a newcomer at the school, a little four-year-old girl, who once seated at the table took a bun from the basket before she had permission.
“What happens when a little child is hungry and there is food in front of her – she took a bun,” Logan explained.
When a nun counted the buns and discovered one was missing, Logan’s mother took the blame.
“Her hands were strapped so severely, she couldn’t close her hands for three days,” Logan tearfully shared the story. “My mom was called a saviour because she would take the blame whenever she could. There’s many more stories of horrific abuse that’s worse than that I won’t share today but just know these experiences affected everyone in our family deeply.”
Logan said her uncle was the one that explained to her how a missing generation of children left parents bereft and grieving over the loss of those beloved children and how when the children returned home, no one knew how to help them heal or how to deal with their own trauma. They were all so lost in grief, she said.
Event coordinator Jen Rubadeau said this event will be a more solemn and reflective occasion, which will feature a healing ceremony, storytelling, singing and drumming.
“National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is to honour and give space and an opportunity for healing, for not only the residential school survivors but the intergenerational survivors in the community,” Rubadeau said. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear those truths and for those survivors to come together to heal and for non-Indigenous people to learn more – there’s so much to learn and this is one small way for community to come together.”
Rubadeau said this event, like Remembrance Day, will give people a chance to learn more about Canadian history while paying respect and honouring those who were lost and those who survived.
The event is for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community and will acknowledge the 215 unmarked graves found last year at the former Kamloops Residential School site.
The UHNBC Monday Night Drum Group is also hosting a Truth and Reconciliation Cultural Walk-N-Talk event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting from City Hall. Participants will walk and talk with residential school survivors as the group makes their way to Cottonwood Island Park.