Walk for Reconciliation, September 22, 2013
by Lily Shinde
Member, GVJCCA Human Rights Committee
What an amazing day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of redress and participate in the Walk for Reconciliation with two Aboriginal women l and five Japanese Canadians friends. The youngest one just three years old and she endured one of the wettest days of the year to celebrate this momentous and historical event. There were 70,000 people from all walks of life walking together to promote a vision, a dream of Chief Robert Joseph and his daughter, to “foster right relations and relevant opportunities for for Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians to achieve their optimum potential. Together we can advance further … together in “Namwayut – We are all One.”
The seven of us stood shivering in the pouring rain listening in awe while Dr. Bernice King , daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, gave a rivetting keynote speech acknowledging her commitment to reconciliation.
We were carrying signs made by the GVJCCA Human Rights walk team also supporting the Reconciliation Week in honour of the Indian residential school survivors who were taken away from their families by the federal government and experienced terrible physical and sexual abuse in the hands of religious institutions. While walking I was stopped by at least five aboriginal people who thanked me and my friends for taking part in their Walk for Reconciliation. During the Walk I met people who told me stories of how aboriginal people supported Japanese Canadians before and when they were being interned. Stories of harbouring JCs, keeping or buying their fishing boats till they could come back to the west coast and also bringing food to our people. It was heartwarming and also heartwrenching to hear stories during the march about their personal experience in residential schools. As one of my aboriginal friends said the “sky is crying today for the survivors but it is a healing rain!” That statement moved me to tears!
As I looked in front of me and behind me, it was just a sea of people, what a sight to behold!
We finally made it to the end of the march where we were welcomed by the taiko drummers performing on stage and I was so happy that the Walk for Reconciliation organizers asked our community to join them in their celebration. Certainly for me, it was an honour to be on this Walk.
Later we were all drenched but we all went to have lunch and I thanked my friends Rain Daniels and Amanda White to have the honour to walk with them and for our friendship. Both are aboriginal friends who have always supported me on any Japanese Canadian issues, i.e. HOP conference, UBC Honourary Degree and celebrating Powell Street Festival.
I hope that the people that participated in this Walk for Reconciliation are committed to continuing to stand in solidarity with aboriginal issues and their struggles for human rights and justice.