'It takes everybody': Saskatoon students, staff walk for reconciliation
SASKATOON -- Students and staff from the Saskatoon campus of the First Nations University of Canada organized a walk for truth and reconciliation on Friday morning.
“We're walking in honour of all the Indigenous children who attended residential schools, those who didn't make it home, and also those who continue to be discovered,” said Daina Kary, vice-president of the student association on campus.
Dozens of people participated in the walk, which began at the campus and saw them reach Central Avenue before heading back.
One was professor Gilbert Kewistep, a survivor of the Muskowekwan residential school.
He says he hopes the walk can be a beacon of hope.
“For the young ones, and let them know that we can overcome. We can overcome. We all work together, and collectively we can make life better for everybody,” he said.
“I get emotional when I speak about my time in the residential schools, especially now having heard [about] the little ones that were found,” he said.
Kewistep was six when he arrived and he didn’t leave for four years.
“When I went, we were told not to go into certain places within the school that we were in and when this happened it brought back a lot of memories,” he said.
“Some hard times that I encountered, and that were done to us. I won't speak about it again, but very traumatic.”
'IT TAKES EVERYBODY'
Kary said she’s been honoured to have Kewistep as a professor.
“Just being in a class with him, hearing his truths — it's important for everybody hear the truth.”
Kary says in order for true reconciliation to occur, everyone will need to help.
“To be honest I don't know if I will see full reconciliation in my lifetime,” she said.
“It's definitely going to be a process, but it takes everybody to become a part of it, right? When you don't have everybody being a part, it's not going to be successful.”
Members of Truly Alive Youth & Family Foundation, an organization that provides support to visible minority and ethnic minority groups in Saskatoon, were among the group walking.
“It is very important for us to not only honor and improve our understanding of the Indigenous history, experience through stories, but also for us, as an organization and as individuals, to journey together to honour Indigenous children taken away but who never made it back home,” executive director Anthony Olusola said.