Port Alberni marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Port Alberni marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
File Photo

Rain pelted down for part of the march in Port Alberni as nearly 200 people marked Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

A sea of orange shirts brightened the mood but this was already a good day.

“Oh I feel amazing, look behind me, these aren’t just indigenous people, these aren’t just people from Port Alberni,” said Ken Watts, Elected Chief Councillor for the Tseshaht First Nation. “It’s pretty amazing, I feel really blessed today.”

First Nations carver Tim Paul attended Christie Residential School on Meares Island northeast of Tofino.

“What it means is you and I have to start working together, you and I have to be a part of reconciliation and rebuilding,” he said. “Reconciliation is you and I having to rebuild.”

Paul worked with other carvers to complete a new totem pole to mark the day, now standing at Victoria Quay in Port Alberni.

“It means a lot that we’re doing this, it’s part of our healing,” said Dorothy Manson who also attended a Residential School.

“I’m here to support everyone who can not be, to make a stand, to wear my orange shirt and to make First Nations heard and to help reconcile what’s been going on over these last years,” said Lilly Campbell whose great grandfather Cody Gus attended Residential Schools in Ahousaht and Port Alberni.

The discovery of unmarked graves at sites of former residential schools this year has pushed the need for truth a reconciliation to the forefront and many non First Nations are taking part today to learn more and show support.

“It’s something that every Canadian needs to be aware of and know things about for reconciliation to be able to happen,” said Diane Mayba, a supporter.

“This is the way we can start the healing. Starting today. Right here,” added Kamal Sanghera, who attended the event in Port Alberni.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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