Tens of thousands participated in the Reconciliation Walk in Vancouver on Sunday, capping a week of events coinciding with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) hearings into the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.
First Nations, civil society groups and local politicians walked along with tens of thousands on a rainy morning to mark the culmination of Reconciliation Week. The event was supported by the City of Vancouver, who earlier this year proclaimed a Year of Reconciliation.
The keynote speaker Sunday was Dr. Bernice King, daughter of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Bernice King addressed the crowd gathered at Queen Elizabeth Plaza before the walk. Earlier in the week, she said:
“My father… saw economic injustice as inseparable twins and so he spent the last three years of his life really raising the issue and talked about it during the poor people’s campaign that he was crusading for when he was assassinated in Memphis. So going forward, there have to be opportunities made to truly empower First Nations people. That’s the same struggle we face, a little bit different from theirs, in America.”
Prior to Sunday’s walk Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the TRC, spoke about the importance of survivors sharing their stories of abuse at residential schools.
“I want you to know that we understand how brave it was for you to stand up before us, and before all the people who were there at the event this week, and talk about those stories, and talk about those pains, and share your tears … and at the same time, to share your laughter. To talk about the good things, to talk about your resilience. To talk about how it was that you came through this — and to declare to all of those who were listening that we are still here.”