Walkers on the Chilliwack Reconciliation Walk will be wearing the orange T-shirts

Reconciliation walk in Chilliwack starts journey of understanding

United Churches are bringing together congregation members with Sto:lo people for a special Truth and Reconciliation event Friday

It’s a little walk across the road after sharing a meal.

But it’s so much more.

A group of United Churches are bringing together congregation members with Sto:lo people for a special Truth and Reconciliation inspired event Friday evening in Chilliwack.

“The United Churches in the Eastern Fraser Valley have made a commitment to have a better understanding of the harm caused by residential schools,” said Jody Shaw from Carman United, one of the organizers of the event.

The Reconciliation Walk is one of the learning opportunities and workshops being developed by this group, in consultation with Sto:lo leaders and elders.

The goal is to further everyone’s “collective understanding” of the damaging legacy left by the residential school system across Canada.

“This walk is considered a starting point toward the journey of understanding; a journey which will take time,” said Shaw.

It’s part of a series of events the cluster of churches is planning with reconciliation with Aboriginal people as the intent, and it falls on Orange Shirt Day.

Clarence Pennier, a grand chief of the Sto:lo Tribal Council, has been presenting reconciliation sessions and sharing the “Call to Action” that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

He said this group going in the “right direction” with this idea, and it mirrors the notion that the country needs to move from apology to action.

“What they are doing is creating a relationship with our people, which is a good thing,” Pennier said. “We have to go down that road together.”

United Church members from congregations including Carman, Chilliwack, Rosedale, Agassiz, Mt. Shannon and Hope, will be participating.

Walkers on the Chilliwack Reconciliation Walk will be wearing the orange T-shirts, with the theme ‘Every Child Matters’ in memory of a little girl named Phyllis who never got to wear the brand-new orange shirt her grandmother bought her for the first day school because the school officials took it away.

The Orange Shirt Day campaign on Sept. 30 has come to symbolize the profound loss and self esteem damage suffered by so many First Nations children across Canada who were cruelly separated from family, loved ones and community and forced to attend residential schools. It’s a way to honour survivors of the residential system, as well as those who didn’t make it.

The walk participants will leave from Carman United and cross the road to meet with Sto:lo members. A potluck dinner is set for 5 p.m. at Carman United Church, followed by the walk at 6 p.m. to the Sto:lo Nation site on Vedder Road.

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