September 11, 2013

Anastasia Koutalianos

September 16 marks the beginning of Reconciliation Week: a week of diverse events highlighting the traditional gems of First Nation culture, its strength and dynamic understanding and connection to nature and beyond, and the lessons of healing and transformation.

Reconciliation Canada was first conceived as a bridging of Aboriginal people and all Canadian in defining a new and united nation. However, the movement has grown. Reconciliation is for everyone: young and old, for all cultures, colours and creed. So in light of change and a new future—come and experience firsthand First Nation healing ceremonies. Come and participate in dances and songs that move mountains and enrich the spirit. Come and listen to stories of difference with a message of unity. Come and walk for a future of hope and promise. We invite you.

To volunteer for any of these events, go to

Monday, September 16: Lighting the Fire of Reconciliation, 8am

Starting off the week, the Lighting is an intimate ceremony for key dignitaries and Reconciliation Canada partners. While the public is welcome to spectate from a distance at Ambleside Park, the event will be kept as a small and sacred ceremony.

Tuesday, September 17: All Nations Canoe Gathering, 9am-1pm

Rich in symbolism and tradition, the canoe gathering marks a journey of healing and a ceremony of welcome. More importantly, it allows for all nations to join together—to share in thought, stories, traditional dance and song—and strengthen bonds of friendship. Canoes launch at 9am from Vanier Park and are welcome to shore at False Creek on the south side of Science World around 10am. Upon arrival, a formal address (or protocol) will be exchanged between the host First Nation and guest canoe families. Six flotillas (each representing 6–10 vessels) will participate. At Science World from 10am-1pm, enjoy traditional protocol, songs, dances and presentations. An event for the whole family!

Wednesday-Saturday, September 18-21: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada events

Reconciliation Canada supports the efforts of the TRC and encourages all Canadians to participate in the process of reconciliation. Over four days, the Pacific National Exhibition will be centre stage to a series of free public dialogue workshops and panels, survivor walks, displays and prayers, talent nights, film screenings, a closing ceremony party and more. An opportunity to share the past, discuss the present and explore new ways forward. Listing of all events. (Note times are subject to change. For up-to-date information, visit the TRC website.)

Sunday, September 22: Walk for Reconciliation, 8:30am-1pm; Walk at 10am

A morning meant to uplift, transform and rekindle our spirits. A ceremony rooted in change, the Walk follows First Nation tradition in washing participants of their old selves as they pass through a hemlock archway. On the other side we are led in procession to the drumbeats of Nisga’a drummers and dancers as we walk for reconciliation. Early entertainment/presentations (830-10am) and the start line are at Queen Elizabeth Plaza (on West Georgia at Hamilton Streets). Routes are 2km and 4kmlong. Food trucks, music and dance performances will be at the end line at False Creek (Quebec at Terminal Streets). For schedule, route maps and more, visit

Before the walk, witness the rising and dropping of the dance screens (featuring the tree of life) as they reveal a ceremonial performance of movement and mask-wearers from the Kwakwaka-wakw nation. Depicting characters of the microcosm of life—the masks and art showcase the pain, innocence and wonder of the universe as it expresses the identity and symbols of First Nation culture. A collaborative piece spearheaded by renowned artist, practitioner and historian Beau Dick—the dance exposes our collectiveness while connecting to the natural and supernatural cosmos. “A continuum,” notes Beau. A practice from the Kwakwaka-wakw big house, it seeks “to connect the dots to help people so they can see the bigger picture.” And the bigger picture we will.