Sherry Tinsley-Bobke led the walk of roughly 50 people around Valemount. /LAURA KEIL

Residents from across the valley honoured the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by taking part in walks in Valemount and McBride. Below is the speech by Valemount organizer Sherry Tinsley-Bobke.

By Sherry Tinsley-Bobke
Hadi… hello.
Today we gather on the shared unceded traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh and the Simpcw Nation to honour the 2nd annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
September 30 …Orange Shirt Day. We wear orange to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors and in memory with those who were not.
To raise awareness of the individual, family and community impacts of residential schools and to promote Every Child Matters. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
In recognition of the devastation the residential school system did to our Indigenous peoples.
It’s more than just a day: it’s an opportunity to learn and reflect.
There were 140 federally run residential schools in Canada that operated between 1867 and 1996. Many and most that attended were inadequately fed, clothed and housed. Deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities. Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools and others never returned home.
As of September 2, 2022 … 2849 recoveries and counting in Canada since the 215 graves were discovered in Kamloops last June. These are the ones in the ground. We will never know the exact number. We will never know how many babies and children were incinerated.
Schools are supposed to have playgrounds and graduates… not graveyards and survivors.
I stand here in front of you all today as a daughter of a residential school survivor.
We are still here
We are infinitely more than survivors… we are a gift and a blessing.
Our feet still touch the earth in the lands of our ancestors.
We belong…
We matter…

Mussi Chou… Thank you.

Staff from RVCS were joined by students from McBride Centennial School and other residents in a Truth and Reconciliation walk hosted by the PEACE, Indigenouse Literacy and Family Support staff at RVCS on Thurs Sept. 29th. The walk began with words of memorial spoken by Charlene Jones at Steve Kolida Park and 215 flags placed in memory of the first children found on residential school property. The flags were placed by Eric Gauthier, Kevin Chiupka, Gillian Hooker, Jayda Mazereeuw, Jayde Richter and RVCS staff. /ANDREA ARNOLD
Robson Valley Community Service employees along with community members and several students started the Truth and Reconciliation walk in McBride at Steve Kolida Park. As they made their way to Horseshoe Lake, the students had to return to school. The remaining participants completed the walk and stood among the beauty and silence at Horseshoe Lake. Following some words of reflection, the group stood in silence with heads bowed for a moment of silence. RVCS employee Charlene Jones’ mom was a part of the Elizabeth Colony Métis settlement in the Treaty 6 Territory in Alberta. “I think the hardest part for me to understand is that it took the voices of Elders speaking their truth, but no one wanted to listen, cause it happened in the past,” said Jones. “Then Phyllis Webstad and her family started the Orange Shirt Day movement and still her truth was not enough, but our eyes began to open. It then took finding the bodies of children in 215 unmarked graves that we finally woke up to see that this was not right. I hope that this day helps some people to heal just as I hope this day will encourage others to learn more. /ANDREA ARNOLD