A Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony was held at Kehewin School (Kinokamasihk Kiskinohamatokamik) on September 29 in support of Orange Shirt Day as an eagle flew overhead and whistled.
Crystal John is a teacher at Kehewin School.
“This ceremony was done on September 29 as the school will be closed September 30, which is designated as Orange T-shirt Day to honour Phyllis Webstad and all children across Canada that have been impacted by the trauma and effects of the residential school system,” John told Lakeland Connect.
Staff and students, K-4 to grade 12, wore orange shirts for a walk from the local cemetery back to the school after the ceremony. During the ceremony, which was held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29, was started by drummers Jayzer Littlewolf and Desi Chocan who sang an honour song.
“It was blessed by a Grandfather eagle who flew overhead and whistled,” John said. “The walk was to honour the spirits of the children whose bodies were found at Residential Schools across Canada. Finding these bodies has again shed light on the government’s hidden agenda of cultural genocide and provides truth to the atrocities suffered by Indigenous people who forcibly had to attend these institutions.”
John says the children’s walk acknowledged the suffering of Indigenous people and provided support for the continued healing of their people.
“It also brings awareness to the importance of starting dialogue for creating positive relationships between Indigenous and our non-Indigenous neighbours,” John said. “The RCMP from the Bonnyville detachment participated with the school offering patrol service which is a step towards reconciliation. Once an understanding is established perhaps, racism will be abolished between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”
Sgt. Sarah Parke is the Detachment Commander at the Bonnyville RCMP.
“It’s important to me that the Bonnyville RCMP acknowledge and participate in the truth and reconciliation process not only this month but consistently moving forward,” Sgt. Parke told Lakeland Connect. “It was a pleasure and an honour to participate in yesterday’s walk with the staff and students of Kehewin School.”