Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has planned a series of events commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation today.
Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone said the events at Grand Valley Provincial Park are focused on healing, while honouring children lost to the residential school system and survivors who live with ongoing trauma.
“We’re always taking steps towards reconciliation with the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations,” Bone said. “What’s important is that we take time to reflect and look back on the Truth and Reconciliation (Commission) and their 94 Calls to Action to further reconciliation.”
Unfinished work remains from the calls to action and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report, Bone said, and she hopes those who engage with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will look up resources, engage with the history of Indigenous people, reach out to Indigenous communities and continue discussions on how to further the reconciliation process.
“Take the time to spend time with elders, hear their stories and understand all those impacts that have brought us to where we are today,” Bone said.
It will be ongoing work to progress in reconciliation, she added, and it will take active participation from all Canadians.
Sioux Valley has planned a series of events for members and invited guests to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day starts with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the former Brandon Indian Residential School site. Presentations will follow at 11 a.m., and a feast begins at noon. A round dance is set to take place at 3 p.m.
It is mandatory to register at the Grand Valley site before entering the event, and all Manitoba public health orders will be in place. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m.
The ceremony will include elders and an opening prayer accompanied by a local drum group.
The service will focus on the children sent to residential schools, unmarked graves across the country and the lingering harmful effects of the residential school system in Indigenous communities.
The presentation following the ceremony will feature a short video clip on truth and reconciliation of Murray Sinclair, a former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The video will be followed by a presentation from Katherine Nichols, a University of Manitoba researcher who has spent the last nine years uncovering key details of unmarked graves at the former Brandon residential school site.
The day will finish with a reading of children’s names.
Bone said she hopes Canadians engage with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation so they can better understand and acknowledge the history of residential schools and the long-standing challenges that impact Indigenous people through intergenerational trauma.
“Those harmful effects still linger today,” Bone said. “We still face those challenges and we still continue to advocate for healing for our communities and our Indigenous people.”
Having a public commemoration of the painful history of residential schools and the system’s ongoing impacts is a huge component of the reconciliation process, she said.
However, taking the time to acknowledge these experiences has an emotional impact on communities and survivors.
“It will bring those painful memories that they have of residential schools,” Bone said.
Survivors’ stories have always been known in Indigenous communities, and Sioux Valley has hosted several gatherings and sessions to promote healing, reflection and the sharing of circles.
“It’s great to see that more people are joining in and acknowledging that to the point the government has set aside a whole day to acknowledge that,” Bone said.
Bone encouraged Westman residents to participate in other Truth and Reconciliation events taking place today, including the events hosted by the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples Council at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
“We can be united as part of reconciliation,” Bone said. “We’re acknowledging the work that’s being done and the efforts towards reconciliation.”
For those affected by the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24-7 at 1-866-925-4419.
» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp
Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun