National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Canada
Saturday September 30th, 2023 was a day to reflect on the past and present, acknowledge the atrocities that occurred in residential schools and show respect to the indigenous lands on which we live. We were thankful to be part of the Every Child Matters walk in Mînî Thnî.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were removed from their families and communities, and forced to attend residential schools from 1920 under the Indian Act. Many were subject to traumatic abuse; physical, sexual and psychological with many children never returning.
In 1831 the first residential school was established and it was only in 1996 that the last residential school closed. This means the family and community separation and trauma is still extremely present today.
It is important for us to recognize that in many of the residential schools children were not cared for and respected, having many of their human rights disregarded. They experienced loneliness and isolation from their families and communities. The schools punished children for speaking their native language, cultural and traditional practices. Ultimately forcing assimilation. This is a hugely important part of history that adds to us understanding the generational trauma that the First Nations communities and individuals have experienced and continue to experience.
We are grateful to be welcomed to Mînî Thnî to walk and stand up for the rights of every child to have a loving and caring environment. A woman on this day spoke about her grandmother's experience in residential school. She brought up a powerful point that resonated with me. As a child, her grandmother was taken from her family and deprived of love. She was ridiculed for her culture and living in an environment of fear. She wasn't hugged or told that she was loved. So, she did not know how to show love towards her own children and had to learn this. It takes generations to repair the emotional damage that is experienced from simply not knowing how to show love and affection.
How can we help to make positive change? Show unconditional love and kindness to the children we interact with.
Here are some other ways to support:
It was great to learn about and witness the commitment for economic collaboration between the town of Cochrane, the Stoney Nakoda Peoples and Treaty 7 signatories: Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, Wesley/Goodstoney First Nation, and the Stoney Tribal Administration. They have united to participate in the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI), a national program for First Nations and neighboring communities to build respectful and equitable partnerships with a focus on a joint effort for community economic development and land use.
Using the principles of Advantaged Thinking, we see children for the potential they have and for what they aspire to. We look for their strengths and work with them so they rise to their full potential.
We continue learning about the history of Treaty 7 and the land we live on. An excellent book to understand more our history is These Mountains Are Out Sacred Places by Chief John Snow who remained positive and accepting in an environment where his people were continuously deceived and mistreated.
Truth and Reconciliation is a matter of our every day life. We will accomplish great things together by doing small actions daily.
Thank You to all the organizers of Every Child Matters walk in Mînî Thnî for making this gathering possible and inviting us.