Diana Adams hopes the large turnout for the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation March through Duncan on Thursday, Sept. 30 made its point.
Adams, who is from Haida Gwaii, said she thinks the march, and events like it that were held across the nation on the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, will be instrumental in highlighting to Canadians the many injustices that were visited upon Indigenous people in the country over the centuries.
“I’d like to see more recognition of what has happened to First Nations in Canada’s history,” Adams said.
“I think we’re going in the right direction and this is good first step, but there’s still work to be done.”
Adams was one of more than 2,000 people, most in orange t-shirts that symbolize truth and reconciliation, that marched through the streets of Duncan Thursday in an event that was organized by the M’akola Housing Society, Cowichan Tribes, and a number of other organizations.
The first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 was set aside to be a day to recognize the horrors of Canada’s residential schools, and honour the lost children and survivors.
The enactment of the holiday was among 94 calls to action put forward by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
Another marcher, Colleen Browne, said it’s about time that Canadians acknowledge the “horrific colonial past of this country.”
“I’m here to honour the people that were here before us and, hopefully, this day will become part of actual actions to address the past, and not just be more words,” she said.
Speaking to the crowd at the end of the march, organizer Audrey George said she was pleased to see a “sea of orange” and that the marchers included many generations, from children to elders.
“My parents went to residential schools, so it’s important for me to acknowledge the survivors and the inter-generational trauma that these schools have caused,” George said.
“It’s our time to break the cycle and this is day one. We couldn’t do this without all these people standing here today. I’m overwhelmed with emotion.”
Marcher Mary Liston said it’s important that Canadians remember what happened at the residential schools, and to the First Nations in general.
“Hopefully, we’re on the path to a better future for this country,” she said.
“I think this is a very good first step and I think Cowichan Tribes are pleased with the turnout [for the march].”
Dara, who didn’t give her last name, said the march and the support it showed for First Nations is the least that citizens can do.
“I want the government and the church to come up with the money to make things right,” she said.
Cowichan elder Joe Thorne said he’s satisfied with the turnout for the march.
“This acknowledgement of the past is part of a new beginning,” he said.
“Now it’s time to heal and have a better tomorrow.”