The line of marchers literally stretched around the block in downtown Campbell River as part of this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation march.
The event comprised a march, followed by ceremonies, a light lunch and more. Around the event, people commented repeatedly on the “sea of orange” that filled Spirit Square.
That sea of orange spilled out into the street, led by a group of Kwakwakaʼwakw drummers around downtown, before returning to the square. There, the singing continued, followed by speeches by local Elders.
“We need to celebrate the whole decolonizing experience,” said Namgis Chief Wedlidi Speck. “When we say we’re one with all of life, that’s decolonizing. When we say that we’re one family, that’s decolonizing. When we say that l’ook I need to ask for your help,’ that’s decolonizing … Today can say that we’re recreating a pathway to what we call home. Our healing is our home.”
Speck was followed by Elder James Quatell, who said that he “was in the residential school. I was a Survivor. I may still be but I took on something much more powerful. I am a voice! I’m a voice for the residential school. So wherever I go, I will stand and speak to the atrocities that they did to those children, that they did to me.”
Following a light lunch, Campbell River Artist in Residence Shawn Decaire presented 60 bent wood boxes to survivors of residential and day schools.
“Here’s where it matters most, it’s what’s inside these boxes,” he said. What’s inside these boxes for you beautiful survivors? Its messages from … the children of today, telling you they love you. These boxes don’t have to be open now, but just know that these boxes are from the children to the child that’s inside you, and that’s why we’re giving it to you.”
The event concluded with more dancing and singing.