Freedom to express culture and learning language are just two reasons Terry Robinson attended the annual Truth and Reconciliation Walk, organized by the Friendship House, on Sept. 30.
Initial estimations from volunteers on the day cited between 500 and 800 participants in the Every Child Matters event on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation held at the Prince Rupert civic center field during the afternoon.
“I’m here because we have the freedom of our culture now — to learn our language, teach our language to our younger generation,” Robinson said. “It’s gradually coming back and there’s a lot of elders back home that are fluent. I can understand all our language.”
Robinson said it’s essential for the future and the younger generations to be able to carry forward the language and traditions.
“I’ve heard my grandparents and great-grandparents speak our language and I understood every word that they said. They always made sure I understood what they were saying.”
It’s that knowledge he wants to pass on and why he attended the walk with his grandchildren, he said.
Nisga’a sisters Vivian Watts and Julia Smith who came from Kincolith to support the walk, had relatives survive the residential school system. They were walking in memory of the lost children and those who survived.
Events like the walk are a powerful teaching tool, they said.
“It’s important to educate people of everything that’s going on,” Smith said. “We are here; we’re strong, we survived. They survived. We’re here because of them … they went through a lot.”
Watts said acknowledgment of history is paramount.
“It is very important that they acknowledge what’s going on and how it affected everybody. [It’s important] that we all come together and be as one family to support each other,” Watts said.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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