A young man drums in Vanier Park before the All Nations Canoe Gathering on Sept. 17. The event kicked off a week of reconciliation activities in Vancouver.
A team of Nisga’a paddlers prepares for the canoe gathering.
A man drums in Vanier Park before the canoe gathering.
Gerda August of Squamish Nation is comforted by her brother before the canoe gathering. Five of her 16 siblings attended residential school.
A First Nations team takes part in a canoe flotilla in Vancouver’s False Creek to mark the start of Reconciliation Week.
First Nation drummers lead a walk for survivors on the opening day of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Vancouver.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo gestures during the survivors’ walk on Sept. 18.
Residential school survivors take part in the opening walk.
Memories of residential school fill a message board at the TRC event.
A woman writes her hopes for reconciliation on a message board.
A worker adjusts a stack of scrolled copies of the Canadian government’s 2008 apology to former students of residential schools.
Floyd Mowatt rips up his copy of the government apology to residential school survivors. A former student at St. George’s Anglican residential school in Lytton, B.C., he was awarded a settlement in 1999 for the abuse he suffered there. “I was kidnapped at age five,” he says.
A couple examines class pictures at an exhibition of paintings created by students at the Alberni Indian Residential School on Vancouver Island. Many students suffered sexual and physical abuse at the United Church-run school.
TRC attendees look at archival photos from the United Church-run Alberni residential school.
Debra Cook holds a photo of the Alberni residential school, which she attended between 1962 and 1973. “All of my mother’s nine children attended,” she says. “I’m okay . . . most of the time.”
A man examines a canoe decorated with over 5,000 tiles created by students from more than 250 schools across British Columbia. Each tile represents a child who attended residential school, including those who died and never came home.
Una Ann Moyer and Gail Stromquist clasp hands above the tiled canoe. Moyer, an artist, conceived the project, while Stromquist, the Aboriginal education co-ordinator for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, collected the tiles. “We are all connected to the canoe,” Moyer says.
A high school student performs a traditional dance on Sept. 19 as part of a day of educational activities attended by hundreds of students from across British Columbia.
Willy Joe and his sister Janis Joe raise their fists in greeting. The siblings attended St. Augustine’s Catholic residential school in Sechelt, B.C. “We’re here to support all the survivors,” says Janis Joe.
Donna Dickison, a member of the St'át'imc First Nation, says she was sexually abused by church officials at her Catholic residential school from the ages of seven to 12. After moving to Vancouver in her late teens, she worked as a prostitute for a year and had a son, who would eventually help her to open up about the abuse and begin healing. “I’m strong now. It’s been a very long journey for me. But I’ve made it. And I'm here today,” she says.
A man at the Truth and Reconciliation event sends a message with his T-shirt.
The TRC’s bentwood box is a symbol of the strength and resilience of residential school survivors. Carved from a single piece of red cedar, the ceremonial box travels to each of the national TRC events and holds expressions of reconciliation. Chief Ian Campbell of B.C.’s Squamish Nation drums at left in the background.
Survivors hold cupcakes at a birthday party on Sept. 21 honouring all the birthdays that were forgotten or ignored at residential schools. Local churches baked thousands of cupcakes for the event, and Sunday school children made cards.
Congregants sing at a special joint worship service of Vancouver United churches held at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United on Sept. 22. Former United Church moderator Very Rev. Bob Smith (background left) opened the service by acknowledging the church’s complicity in the residential school system, while current moderator Rt. Rev. Gary Paterson (background centre) spoke about the journey to reconciliation.
Wesley Nahanee of the Squamish First Nation speaks to the media at a special worship service at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United. Nahanee welcomed churchgoers to the traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. After the service, congregation members joined a Walk for Reconciliation through downtown Vancouver.
Singers from Vancouver’s Sweet Soul Gospel Choir perform before the Walk for Reconciliation on Sept. 22.
Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr., speaks ahead of the reconciliation walk.
A residential school survivor leans on her walker as people gather for the reconciliation walk.
An Aboriginal elder protects her drum from the rain during the walk.
A walk participant wears a traditional Aboriginal mask.
Two women embrace at the walk, which marked the end of Reconciliation Week.