Today, September 30, 2022 is National Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, a Day to acknowledge the pain, trauma and inter-generational suffering by Indigenous children, families and communities, a result of colonization and specifically, the human ravages of the residential school system.
To acknowledge this significant Day, I had the honour of attending two events today, one in our own community of Oak Bay, on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen Peoples, known today as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. Sponsored by the ReconciliACTION network of local organizations, including the Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB), well over 100 people attended the early morning event held outside at Oak Bay High School.
Later in the morning, I attended, along with literally thousands of other people, a region-wide PowWow at Royal Athletic Park, hosted by the Songhees First Nation. This was the first regional event of its kind in over 20 years. While the Songhees celebrated with song, music and dance, speakers also acknowledged the pain, grief and trauma of residential school and the unbearable loss of Indigenous children.
Oak Bay was recognized among other municipal sponsors, for donating $10,000 to support the PowWow event and our MLA and Oak Bay resident Minister Murray Rankin, joined many of the Mayors and others in acknowledging the meaning of the Day and the event, all speaking with an emphasis on the need to move ahead with reconciliation and action on outstanding issues.
A wonderful Day but a Day of remembrance, sadness and silence, to reflect on the many tragedies of residential schools for victims and for survivors. A final note — Chief Ron Sam seemed overwhelmed by the turn-out, which spoke volumes to the commitment of thousands of people across the region to truth and reconciliation. I left feeling a sense of hope.