Hundreds of people showed up to partake in various activities held around the Kelowna, B.C., area to honour the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“It’s not just remembering the past, but looking forward to the future and what we can do to build a better Canada,” Westbank First Nation Chief Christopher Derickson said.
Dozens of people gathered for a drumming circle and a moment of silence for those who never returned from residential schools.
“Some of our elders have organized a drumming circle to commemorate the 215 kids that didn’t make it home, to honour the survivors and to look forward to what could be for the next generation of Indigenous peoples in Canada,” Derickson said.
“It’s a day to remember that there was a time in this country where our people were forced to give up our culture, our language,” he added.
“We could start to acknowledge that truth, that past in Canada, and start to actually talk about it and start to make meaningful change for Indigenous peoples.”
Down at the Okanagan Heritage museum, different stations were set up to teach people about the Syilx culture.
“I hope that people take away more knowledge because that is one of the first steps of truth and reconciliation, is just learning more about the history, learning more about the local experience,” museum spokesperson Jen Garner said.
Museum visitors of all ages took the time to learn about the residential school experience.
“I think this is such a good opportunity to talk to the younger generation about why this day is important, considering it’s the first day,” local resident Amber Pfliger said.
Dozens of people visited the museum wearing orange shirts and participating in various crafts available to help educate kids.
“I’m hoping that it will go beyond just an emotional sentiment, that this national day of truth and reconciliation will have meaning for the colonial culture,” said Mathilde Colley after visiting the museum.