7th Anniversary Impact Stories: Why We WalkSep 22, 2020
The “Why We Walk” campaign asked individuals to share their story and personal connection to the reconciliation movement. Stories were shared in the weeks leading up to the Walk for Reconciliation in 2017. Today, we feature two powerful impact stories to mark the 7th anniversary of our inaugural walk.
“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 it’s all about. That’s what reconciliation means to me.”
“I went to a residential school in the late 1950s. I was about 11 years old, and I worked in the infirmary there. I remember stealing foods for the kids or the babies in the infirmary because they were so hungry. I would take whatever I could find, like peanut butter sandwiches or even raw potatoes. When I got caught, I had to scrub floors with a toothbrush for four months. I tried my best to protect the kids in that school and, even today, they thank me for what I did because they remember being so hungry.
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. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do. I had a hard time forgiving the ones that abused me, but it was vital to get on with my life. I was anchored to the past, which made me 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 are the biggest hope for the future, and it means healing as our souls come together as one.”