Thousands gather in Victoria Park for Turtle Island Healing Walk in London, Ont.

A crowd of Indigenous peoples and allies making their way down Richmond Street for the 2022 Turtle Island Healing Walk. Kate Otterbein / Global News

A sea of orange gathered at Victoria Park on July 1 in support of the Indigenous community. Thousands came out for the second annual Turtle Island Healing Walk, a walk to honour the survivors and lives lost from Canada’s residential school system.

“It’s amazing,” said the director of the walk, Elyssa Rose, spirit name Little Thunder Woman. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was definitely hoping for our relatives and communities to be out here, and whoever could come. I’m really honoured to see how many people have shown up to support today.”

Many of the 10,000 people who attended last year came back again. This includes Brian Loubert and his wife, Deb.

“We came last year and I’ve followed the residential school issue for close to 18 to 19 years,” said Loubert. “When I took Canadian history in school, I was very proud of our native culture. To find out how they were misled by the government and all their factions and institutions was very disheartening.”

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Lila Bruyere, a residential school survivor, spoke at the event Friday morning.

“I think about the children,” said Bruyere. “I knew about the children, as a survivor, going to St. Margaret’s residential school. We were told about the children. But if we talked about it, we were silenced and they would deny it.”

As a survivor, Bruyere spoke about being offered a paid trip to see the Pope. But this wasn’t something she was interested in.

“I don’t need to ask somebody to apologize to me. They need to come and see me.”

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Now, Rose hopes the annual walk continues to have an impact on the London community.

“[I hope] it continues to create space for our communities, relatives, survivors, to have that space and time to be able to mourn, heal, but also be supported by our allies and supporters throughout the city.”

Rose extends a big thank you to everyone who came out and supported the Indigenous community.

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