Walk for Reconciliation

Tens of thousands of people gathered on a rainy Vancouver morning, each to find his/her way to reconcile the abusive past of Indian residential schools. Dr. Bernice King, daughter of rights activist Martin Luther King, gave a rousing speech. At the end the we chanted with her “Free at last, free at last” and hoped she was right; that this dark era of Canada’s history would be over and that everyone, my First Nations and non First Nations brothers and sisters alike would feel a new kind of freedom in this country.

In 1990, former Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Phil Fontaine was the first to speak publically about his abuse at a residential school. A year later he led a healing conference in Tsartlip First Nation, near Victoria, for other past students, it was to be the first of hundreds and the beginning of a long journey towards healing in this country.

The Reconciliation Walk in Vancouver was drenched with metaphors; the rain—cleansing the crowd, the journey—one step at a time, and the mixed multitude—only together can we be truly free.

Everyone brought home his/her own message. For me, I heard the people say they were tired of the bad relationship between indigenous people and Canada. They want a new way of treating each other and are willing to do their part. I know I am. I left the event, one hopeful man, who like so many, come from both sides of the relationship, and believe that we can do it.

Adam Olsen

Stellys Cross Road, Brentwood Bay, BC, V8M 1J7