Walk of Solidarity for Residential School Victims Sees Over a 1000 Supporters
It was a sea of orange and an ocean of support. Wood Buffalo showed up for the Memorial Walk in Solidarity held on July 7, 2021 in memory of Residential School survivors and the children who never made it home. The five First Nation Chiefs representing the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC), the Treaty 8 Grand Chief, and Métis leaders, walked into Fort McMurray for the Memorial Walk in Solidarity with the support of an estimated 350 Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous supporters, as per an official ATC statement. The walk concluded at Snye Point Park, where an estimated 1000 people including Mayor Don Scott, and other community leaders were in attendance to support the cause at what was also dubbed the Cultural Village.
Elder Robert Cree opened the event with a Cree prayer, and appreciated everyone for attending.
“This is to remember our children. And, to stand together in solidarity. Thank you for being here today, and standing with us.”
The 130-kilometre walk was initiated at the Janvier Health Center on July 1, Canada Day by Chief Vern Janvier and members of the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation. Community members, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous joined the platform at various legs of the walk supporting with food and water as well.
Attendees were given free “Every Child Matters,” orange shirts. And, the venue featured live bannock making and fish frying. Three teepees, and trappers’ tents were also set-up on site to share cultural knowledge, and teachings to those wanting to learn.
“I’m very proud of the ATC staff and our First Nation and Métis communities who all worked together to make this a true community event,” said Karla Buffalo, CEO of Athabasca Tribal Council in an official statement.
“This is a time when our community members are reliving the trauma of residential schools and we wanted those members to know that we hear them and believe them when they tell us of the abuse and trauma they experienced at residential schools,” she added.
Survivors also shared stories of residential school atrocities, and asked everyone to help with Truth and Reconciliation efforts.
ATC Community Members who are in need of emotional support are encouraged to call the Athabasca Tribal Council’s IRS Support Worker, Lyn Chartrand, at 780-799-2461, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all Indigenous people.