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.