A new Oak Bay collaboration marks the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a pair of events.
Residents are invited to participate in an observance of the day Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. at the Sno’uyutth welcome pole in front of Oak Bay High. The ceremony will honour residential school survivors, their families and the children who never came home. Songhees Nation members Florence Dick and Yuxweluptun Bradley Dick will speak at the event.
On Oct. 1, a screening of Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket documentary film starts at 7 p.m. at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, 1701 Elgin Rd. The Witness Blanket, by Indigenous artist Carey Newman, stands as a national monument to recognize the atrocities of the Indian residential school era.
Rosy Hartman, the coordinator for the Witness Blanket project, will introduce the film and be on hand for post-film conversation.
The events are organized by ReconciliACTION Oak Bay. The new group aims to advance reconciliation as a critical part of the community’s future, said Bruce Kilpatrick, a member of the Community Association of Oak Bay. Oak Bay United and St. Mary’s Anglican churches are also partners in the network and more are expected to join.
The organizations plan to do the work through a variety of initiatives and activities, both separately and together.
ReconciliACTION Oak Bay is animated by the spirit of the Sno’uyutth welcome pole, which was raised on the grounds of Oak Bay High to “spread good energy” and symbolize the beginning of a new relationship between the community and the Songhees and Esquimalt peoples, in whose traditional territories Oak Bay is situated.
In the next year, the network hopes to establish respectful relationships with both nations, create local calls to action; develop a public engagement and action strategy between the Lekwungen and settler communities; partner with council and other groups on initiatives, and support the Songhees Indigenous Marine Trail, including participation in the Oak Bay Marina lease/Spewhung redevelopment.
“One of the things we needed to do is to make sure the promise and the commitment that pole represents led to good work in the community,” Kilpatrick said. “This need to be about learning, it needs to be about listening, it needs to be about understanding and awareness and respect and humility, but it also needs to be about concrete action.”