In a short welcoming address, Chief Wayne Christian spoke of how healing was something the First Nations’ must do for themselves; each in their own time. The non-Aboriginal community can help by being there to give witness to the truth without ascribing blame. Mayor Howie Cyr spoke of how the City of Enderby is richer as a community for having the Splatsin to commune with and of the desire to work ever more closely in cooperation with the Splatsin Council.
Splatsin band councillor and resolution health support worker for the Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society, Daniel Joe shared, from the heart, the generational impact of residential schools. In particular, he spoke of the legacy of dysfunctional families. He related how his own father and mother were unable express love to their children never having received it themselves and how, “Finally, at the age of twenty-four, I had to tell my mother that I needed to be hugged.”
Retired United Church minister, Rev. Dan MacQuarrie spoke of the crimes that had been committed in the residential schools and prodded the audience to inform themselves of what took place.
The final panelist, Jody Leon, led the audience through the interim recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Recommendations which include: funding to sustain mental health and healing centres, the release by government and churches of all relevant documents, the development of culturally appropriate early childhood and parenting programs, the promotion of traditional spiritual, cultural and linguistic heritage, measures to increase public awareness and understanding, and the extension of the Commission’s mandate by one year to insure it is able to complete its task.
In response to audience questions, the panelist urged the audience to become engaged by pressuring the government adopt the recommendations, by seeking out and speaking the truth, by being patient while recognizing that years of pain and suffering won’t likely be healed in twenty sessions, and by not being judgemental when witnessing the human manifestation of that suffering.
The forum was one of a number of events hosted by Shuswap Settlement Services Society and funded by the EmbraceBC Program to Organize Against Racism and Hate.
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