A photo of participants preparing for a Reconciliation Walk in Melfort.

Walking the path to Reconciliation, one step at a time

By: Busayo Osobade December, 2023

Education, many say, is the first step to Reconciliation. Apart from engaging communities in arts and culture activities during Culture Days, many cultural leaders planned Reconciliation walks to provide their communities with learning opportunities to reflect and foster unity.

Weyburn held a Reconciliation Walk as part of its Culture Days celebrations this year. The organizers put up a few signs along the walking path that shared the history of Indigenous peoples in Treaty Four territory from pre-colonization to the current day. Participants were able to pause to read and reflect on the signs and their content. Weyburn was one of the 20 Culture Days Hub Sponsorships, supported by SaskCulture, that prioritized Reconciliation activities on September 30, as part of Culture Days this year.

Regan Lanning, curator, Weyburn Arts Council, says that hundreds of residents, including students, have read the content on the signs since it was installed for the Walk. “We came together and showed our community that Reconciliation is important. The easiest takeaway is education.” She noted, “The wise Honorable Murray Sinclair said education got us into this mess, and education is going to get us out.”

Melfort also chose to engage people in a Reconciliation Walk. When Reconciliation Melfort started in 2022, its goal was to support Reconciliation conversations and provide opportunities for the community to engage in the TRC’s Calls to Action. The group works with the community to organize events, such as its Culture Days Reconciliation Walk, to build awareness about Truth and Reconciliation and to honour the Residential Survivors, their families, and their communities.

Lori Constant, a member of Reconciliation Melfort, says that almost a hundred people participated in the Reconciliation Walk this year, with the Digging Bear Drumming Circle Drummers leading the way on the walk.

“It was beautiful to see older community members walking alongside the youth, along with members of our greater community walking with us. Business, health, justice, law enforcement, education, sports… we had people from all areas of our community participating,” she says, adding that she “felt hope for better days and better relationships. I also felt incredibly humbled and honoured to walk with the drum leading us and to walk with Survivors and descendants of Survivors.”

The path toward Reconciliation continues. Truth and Reconciliation is more than one day acknowledged in September, and a walk may be the first step to advance Reconciliation in communities. Lanning encourages communities to start small and think about creating relationships. “Reconciliation is the path forward for us as Canadians. It enables us all to heal and to create bonds and families. It is the responsibility of all Canadians to educate ourselves and find new pathways to move forward.”

Two years ago, SaskCulture modified the Culture Days Hub Sponsorship criteria to prioritize community programming that advanced Truth and Reconciliation as part of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In 2023, SaskCulture supported 31 Hubs. Over 20 Hubs, out of the 31, included a plan to raise awareness and educate their communities about Reconciliation.