Hundreds of Winnipeg high school students took part in a walk for reconciliation Thursday, ahead of Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The Churchill High School students participated in a smudging ceremony Thursday morning, before walking from their school to the Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks.
“We wanted students to have the opportunity to take action and to really think and be contemplative and connect to stories of residential survivors,” Kelly Friesen, a teacher at the school, told Global News.
Friesen says they’ve been teaching the students about the history of residential schools and colonization, including the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died after running away from residential school in Kenora, Ont., in 1966.
For Grade 12 student Quinn Proulx, stories like that are important to learn, as she has family members who attended residential schools.
“I have heard a story in my family of someone who went to a residential school, and she luckily survived from it. But yeah, I just think it’s important because it’s my ancestry. I want to represent that and be supportive of that,” Proulx told Global News.
“Obviously it’s sad, but it makes me feel kind of joyed (to) know that people are starting to finally see how bad it was and just to realize (how) the families must have felt. And knowing that it’s part of my family, it makes me feel like (I) feel noticed and appreciated from that.”
Grade 12 student Shayne Cote says the day is bittersweet, but an important learning experience.
“It’s important because it really shows that you got to honour the people that were affected by residential schools,” Cote said.
“Residential schools were such a terrible thing that happened to the country, even today you’re still feeling effects from it. You really got to honour the people that lost lives, lives were affected by them, lives (that) changed course.”