Members of Regina Indigenous community reflect on the prospect of reconciliation

·2 min read
Thousands of people attend a ‘Cancel Canada Day;’ event at the Vancouver Art Gallery in support of First Nations communities across the country in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, July 1, 2021.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Thousands of people attend a ‘Cancel Canada Day;’ event at the Vancouver Art Gallery in support of First Nations communities across the country in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Members of Regina's Indigenous community continue to reflect on the recent discoveries at residential schools in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada, and what they mean for reconciliation.

Regina musician Brad Bellegarde, a member of the Little Black Bear First Nation, said it is important to keep having uncomfortable conversations with the community. He believes this is important for reconciliation to truly take place.

Bellegarde said he encourages people who are not members of the Indigenous community to ask questions and be open to having uncomfortable conversation as these are necessary steps toward reconciliation.

"Do not be scared to ask questions if you don't understand, if you want to learn about the truth," Bellegarde said. "Reconciliation will not happen for a long time, but the conversation can continue and what that will do is strengthen relationships."

Nichole Huck/CBC
Nichole Huck/CBC

Bellegarde also believes that creating consistent funding for art programs for Indigenous youth. The Regina hip-hop artist said that creative outlets for the youth should be a top priority and long term project.

I think it would be great to see more money allocated toward arts programs that help recognize the trauma but at the same time really benefit the youth," he said.

For freelance videographer Chris Ross, a member of Red Earth Cree Nation, the recent residential school discoveries across the country have caused him to reconsider the possibility of true reconciliation ever happening.

"The path that it was going before, it seemed like it was moving along nicely," he said. "But now I think it's much further than we thought. Despite recent progress, it's still a long way to go and I don't have the same hope as I did before to be honest."

Submitted by Chris Ross
Submitted by Chris Ross

For Ross, it is too early to ask the question of reconciliation.

"We are in for an entire summer of unmarked graves being found at residential schools across the entire country," Ross said. "Searches are going on as we speak, so this is just the beginning. For Indigenous people who are hurting, would we be honouring all those children if we say reconciliation is reached? I don't think so."

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

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