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TRC and Reconciliation Canada announce events of Reconciliation Week

July 25 2013 September 16-22 in Vancouver

Mayor Robertson - Reconciliation Week Event

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and Reconciliation Canada announced today a week of reconciliation activities to take place in Vancouver from September 16 to 22. The announcement was made at a news conference hosted by Mayor Gregor Robertson at Vancouver City Hall.

Reconciliation Week will feature:

  • The lighting of the Flame of Reconciliation, September 16: A sacred fire will be lit at Ambleside to symbolize the start of Reconciliation Week.
  • The All Nations Canoe Gathering, September 17: Watch as people-powered crafts and beautiful cedar dugout canoes paddle into False Creek from Kits Point to Science World, and are welcomed in a traditional ceremony to the Coast Salish lands.
  • The TRC’s British Columbia National Event, September 18-21: Bear witness to the experiences of Survivors of the Indian Residential Schools, and the schools’ continuing legacy. The TRC’s sixth National Event takes place at the Pacific National Exhibition. No registration is required. All activities are free.
  • The Walk for Reconciliation, September 22: Bringing Canada’s many cultures to walk a path together in a shared commitment to reconciliation.
  • A New Way Forward Celebration, September 22: Reconciliation Week culminates with a celebration marking a new beginning and a show of commitment to continuing on the journey of reconciliation. Featuring multicultural performers and various festivities.

In announcing the BC National Event, TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair said reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians depends on a shared understanding of the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools.

“For about 120 years, Aboriginal children in British Columbia were sent to residential schools funded by the federal government and run by the churches in order to be stripped of their languages, cultural identity, spirituality and traditions,” he said. “This policy has been devastating to Aboriginal families and communities, and to relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. It’s time for a new relationship rooted in mutual respect.”

Reconciliation Canada Ambassador Chief Dr. Robert Joseph said: “This is an historic opportunity for Canada to respond to a call for action and commit to reconciliation. To renew relationships for a shared tomorrow, based on a shared understanding of our histories and our cultures and walk a path together for a shared tomorrow. Reconciliation Canada initiatives are weaving a stronger and more vibrant social fabric, based on the unique and diverse strengths of Canadians and their communities.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson said: “Reconciliation Week will be a historic opportunity to heal from the past and build a shared future based on empathy, understanding and respect. We are proud to be the first city in Canada to proclaim this the Year of Reconciliation and honoured to be hosting the BC National Event. As Mayor, I
encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to take part in Reconciliation Week so that we can build a brighter future together.”

An important aspect of the BC National Event will be the opportunity for Survivors of the schools, their children, and others whose lives have been affected by the residential schools to talk about their experiences either publicly or in a private session.

The BC National Event will also feature traditional ceremonies, Survivor gatherings, an Education Day for students, cultural performances, films, gestures of reconciliation, and the induction of TRC Honourary Witnesses including Nick Noorani, a respected authority on diversity and improving immigrant outcomes. Mr. Noorani was introduced at today’s news conference. More information on the role of TRC Honourary Witnesses is available on the TRC website.

In preparation for this event, the TRC has held public hearings in communities throughout British Columbia – in Port Hardy, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Duncan (Cowichan), and Victoria in 2012; and Prince George, Williams Lake, Kamloops and Terrace earlier this year.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an independent commission established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in the 150-year history of the residential schools in Canada, and to guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.

Founded in 2012, Reconciliation Canada is building new relationships between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, relationships built on a foundation of openness,
dignity, understanding and hope. Reconciliation Canada is engaging people from every part of Canadian society in an open and honest conversation about our diverse histories and experiences in order to build resilient, sustainable communities.

Public statements will be webcast live at www.trc.ca .