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-final

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.