Why We Walk – Brooke Fairley

Sep 6, 2017

Brooke Fairley

“To me reconciliation means giving respect to the first people and honouring the teachings of the land that we are so blessed to live on. I grew up on the land of the Squamish Nation and I have made so many friends and learned so many lessons from the Squamish People that I carry with me. More recently, I began working with a Squamish Nation elder. She always says “culture is our medicine.” That’s something that has really stuck with me. Through learning about her culture, traditions and teachings, I have really seen how culture is medicine. That’s where the healing comes from—resurging the teachings and the old ways.

I understand that we always see things through the lens of our own culture and our own lives. I am a white, fourth generation settler so I always see things through my mainstream, dominant, privileged lens. I have learned so much from her to expand my own thinking and I recognize that I have been so honoured to work under her teachings. She has further abled me to understand my role as a settler, my role as a mother, my role as a human being and as a spirit on this earth.

To learn how to understand others, how to live with people, how to live with our land, and how to respect one another— that’s really what its all about. That’s what reconciliation means to me.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Sphenia Jones

Aug 30, 2017

Sphenia Jones

“I went to residential school in the late 1950s. I was about 11 years old and I worked in the infirmary there. I remember that I used to steal a lot of food for the kids or the babies in the infirmary because they were so hungry. I would take whatever I could like peanut butter sandwiches or even raw potatoes. When I got caught, I had to scrub floors with a toothbrush for three or four months.

Lots of people say things like “that didn’t happen”, but it did. They say “oh, get over it,” but we have to talk about it first. I protected the kids in that school with all that I had and I have now met about four or five people who I looked after in the infirmary. They thanked me because they said they remember being so hungry and they remember somebody feeding them.

Right now I am working on a project for child abuse victims which looks at getting homes for them. Our children need at least one safe place they can go to to spend the night away from getting hurt. I’m now one of the cofounders for the Empty Stocking Fund, the Christmas Bureau and Step Up Native School. I have such empathy for the little ones’ who suffered harm in the residential schools, but I’ve come a long way.

Sometimes it’s like a dream when I think about it, but then I pray and the hurt feeling goes away. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do. I had a really hard time forgiving the ones that abused me, but I had to do that to get on with my life. I was anchored there and I was getting sick. When I let everything go, I started getting better.

So what does reconciliation mean to me? It means looking after the little ones which is the biggest hope I have for the future, and it means healing as our souls come together as one.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Dan Chambers

Aug 28, 2017

Dan Chambers

“Years ago, as part of the Truth and Reconciliation event held at the PNE, I was privileged to be a representative from the United Church who served as a “listener.” Very simply, if someone had suffered violence or harm from the residential school experience, I was there to listen. I was honoured to have a conversation with representatives of a family, including a mother, father and daughter. The daughter had been adopted at a young age into a Caucasian family due to the effects of the residential school experience that caused her parents to suffer. She was raised in a very loving family but as a Caucasian family it lacked the core Indigenous culture. The daughter was a remarkably well person, but she felt discombobulated because she was unwillingly divorced from her people and her culture.

As I heard their generational story and stories of others who still suffer in a variety of ways the affects of residential schools, I grew in respect and appreciation for the culture that Indigenous people bring to us and all that was lost. The TRC was a learning experience for me to see why healing is not so easy. You can’t just say “get on with it” because you think tragedy happened in the past. There is no easy or quick fix.

Reconciliation by definition is the mending of a broken relationship and clearly there is a relationship that has been broken. Reconciliation as I understand it is more of a process than an end. It’s the process of trying to understand each other and that ongoing process is something that I believe to be absolutely essential for Canadians to be a part of in order for Canada to be well —we don’t have any other option.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Laura Milne

Aug 24, 2017

Laura Milne

“My mom grew up in a remote area of Northern BC when she was a child. Her family had moved up there to open a general store that was quite far away from town. Their lives ended up becoming quite intertwined with the indigenous community there. Her father would trade dried goods from his store with some of the people for Mukluks for my mom and her siblings, and some kind people would pick her up on dogsleds to take her to school. It was this respectful, cooperative, healthy trading relationship that evolved naturally, and it helped my mom’s family grow accustomed to life in that region.

Hearing her stories of growing up like that, I feel a gratitude to those people who became connected with her and who had stewarded that land for centuries before her family arrived. My mom passed along to me the values of respect and honour that must be upheld in our relationships with Indigenous people. So to me, reconciliation feels like a responsibility. There is so much healing that has to happen that we all must take part in. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done to mend the relationship, but we need to take whatever steps we can and trust that it will take time. It’s an honour to do whatever I can to steward reconciliation. I do my best, but I also know I have more to learn.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Hannah Mclean

Aug 22, 2017

Hannah Mclean

“Reconciliation makes me think of residential schools and what happened in the past. I want that to change and to make it better because it makes me feel sad that a bunch of kids like me were hurt. I know that some people are still angry at others and some people are happy with others and I think that reconciliation is important because it brings people together. It makes me feel happy that people are trying to change the world and make it better.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Deacon Rennie Nahanee

Aug 11, 2017

Deacon Rennie Nahanee

“The residential schools had closed by the time I came of age in North Vancouver but all of my older siblings, my mother and father had attended. Growing up, I went to a school for Indigenous kids and every Monday the sister would ask us “who went to mass on Sunday morning?” and every kid would put up their hand except for me. This went on for 3 or 4 Mondays and I thought, “I’m going to go to church and see what it is all about”—and I actually liked it. I saw our elders there, and I saw in their eyes a love for serving the Lord. So the next Monday in religion class, I put up my hand and said that I had gone to church.

I grew up in the church, but the elders there never spoke about the residential schools which they had attended. I never knew a thing about residential schools until one day, I went to a conference and I heard all of the horrible stories. As a Deacon, it was very tough for me to see anger meet my faith. I went to the conference for three years and on the last day of the third year, they brought in the elders and church people into the Longhouse and they asked us to take these paddles and walk around the Longhouse while they sang a song. The paddles signified us going into the future—the young people, the elders and the church—all as one.

So for me, reconciliation is finding peace with one another and with our culture. I feel peaceful standing on our land today. I can hear the water, I can feel the sunshine and I can feel the air. We are alive and for that I am thankful.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Babs Kelly

Aug 4, 2017

Babs Kelly

For me in my life, reconciliation really has been a journey. The first time I engaged with reconciliation was back in the mid 80s. My father had been incarcerated in a variety of institutions and he had ended up in an outreach program for Indigenous men who were in prison, and it involved a circle. It was a kind of restorative justice program and they spoke of reconciliation with his family and with people he had harmed. On my mother’s side, her father had been to a residential school and that had always been part of her family’s story. They were always working through the legacy of shame and anger and other consequences of a family that ended up disconnected from their place and their people. So I’ve felt connected to reconciliation for a long time.

Something that I am drawn to now in regards to reconciliation is furthering conversations in disruptive, creative and hopeful ways. I often notice that people find it startling the moment when we say that reconciliation is not just a program that we do— it is not as simple as a checkbox system, or bringing an elder in. It actually is about stopping and thinking about who’s land are we guests on. It is considering how we can we be good allies and how can we look at the world with an anti-oppression framework. Then, reconciliation is looking within and thinking “now this requires a change in me.”


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.


Why We Walk – Ross White

Jul 28, 2017

Ross White

When I was a 20-year-old Director of a church camp, I met some extraordinary people. I was representing my camp at an Alberta Camping Association Conference in Banff. Attending also were members of the Rocky Mountain Bush Camp—a program which took indigenous children into their hereditary land-based traditions for one week at a time. How surprised I was then that they invited me to come spend time at the Bush Camp! I’ll never forget sleeping in the tipi, sharing fresh deer meat and talking about how they carefully prepared for the children’s arrival. I felt so honored that they had reached out to a person like me—a non-indigenous, middle class kid—with no other agenda than to share their heritage and application of it.

This was well before the Reconciliation movement had begun. Their willingness to initiate the exchange of ideas was then, and has continued to be, a huge gift to me. Looking back, I realize the ongoing curiosity and openness I have now was activated by these humble, courageous folk. I have come to believe that while we live separately, we don’t have to. I see a day when we will live as respectful members of a rich and diverse common community, and we won’t use the word ‘reserve’ because we will use the word neighbour instead.


The Why We Walk campaign asks individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories will be shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation on September 24th, 2017.

We believe that every person has a story to tell and that by sharing these stories, people may feel a more personal connection to the reconciliation movement.

Learn more about the Walk for Reconciliation here.

Read more Why We Walk stories here.