Walking the Talk
In this issueEngage - Volume 7, Issue 3, Fall/Winter 2017
Cultural AreasFirst Nation and Métis Specific First Nations
Earlier this year, high school students from the Chinook School Division, participated in a walk to remember the First Nations and Métis children who experienced residential schools – and help raise awareness of the truth and damage caused by these institutions.
The Truth and Reconciliation - Let's Walk the Talk event was held in Swift Current on March 14, 2017. Funded by SaskCulture's Multicultural Initiatives Fund, the purpose of the walk, along with coinciding presentations, was to create awareness of the residential schools attended by many First Nation people in Saskatchewan - and how it continues to impact Indigenous communities.
Bula Ghosh was one of the organizers. She is a literacy coordinator at the Great Plains College, and his dedicated to literacy enhancement with ESL students in southwest Saskatchewan.
According to a report Ghosh read, 30 percent of residents in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are still unaware of the history of the Indian Residential Schools. "In my own conversations in social circles, I was surprised that people either did not know about the history of the schools, or they had a different viewpoint and that the schools were not considered a cultural genocide."
As part of the March event, the students walked from the Great Plains College to the City Centre wearing placards that featured ten of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls-to-Action. Once they reached the City Centre, flags from all three levels of government were raised, as well as the Treaty Four flag, and the Métis Nation flag.
“For all that happened in the past, we all need to take responsibility and do something in our own world to make a difference, and work towards reconciliation. Everyone has a role to play."
The day also featured Cree Elder Noel Starblanket, from the Starblanket First Nation. Ghosh says he spoke to students in the morning, and then hosted a storytelling session with 250 ESL students and community members in the evening at the Swift Current Branch library.
Close to 200 students participated in walk. They were all given orange scarves to wear and take home. Ghosh says that's where she hopes the conversation with their families can begin. "Through the students, so many families will talk about it, 'why did you go?; where did you go?'; that's how we can spread (awareness)."
For a future event, Ghosh says she would like to have local Métis poet Zoey Roy present to the youth.
"Reconciliation is everybody's business," she adds. "It does not matter when you came to this country, we only enjoy this land as a result of treaties. For all that happened in the past, we all need to take responsibility and do something in our own world to make a difference, and work towards reconciliation. Everyone has a role to play."
The organizing committee included partners from the Living Sky Casino, the Southwest Multicultural Association, and the City of Swift Current.