The First Walk to Truth and Reconciliation for Youth in Prince George

On October 3rd, 240 Grade 6 and 7 students of Prince George and Nechako Lakes took part in a Walk to Truth and Reconciliation. Students experienced a full day of learning about the lasting impacts of colonization, as well as the process of Truth and Reconciliation through visiting community agencies that are dedicated to serving the needs of Indigenous peoples in Prince George.

Students began the day with a traditional welcome and greeting from Lheidli T’enneh Elder, Chief Dominic Frederick, and attended unique sessions in Uda Dune Baiyoh (the House of Ancestors), Prince George Native Friendship Centre, Prince George Courthouse, and Central Interior Native Health Society (CINHS). Students expanded their knowledge about the meaning of traditional land, the Canadian reserve system, the unique functioning of Indigenous Court, and the disproportionation of Indigenous people in the justice system. Students enjoyed practicing phrases in Carrier and Dakelh languages throughout the day, and learned about the importance of language revitalization for Indigenous identity. Students also listened to the recounted words of an Indian Hospital survivor, and to stories from Dakelh Elder, Lucille Duncan, who spoke vividly on her time in residential school.

Kindness, connection and openness to understand Indigenous worldview were values instilled throughout the day. Learning how to become an effective ally to Indigenous people was a key lesson the students took home with them.  After the event, students created artwork representing their experience during the Walk. Their artwork will be displayed at CINHS Health Care Centre and other public places throughout Prince George!

The event was hosted by Central Interior Native Health Society along with partners Lheidli T’enneh, Justice Education Society of BC, Prince George Native Friendship Centre and supported by First Nations Health Authority, and the Health Arts Research Centre. The event could not be successful without a wonderful group of leaders which included Executive Director of CINHS, Shoba Sharma, Family Practice Resident Dr. Montana Halliday, event MC and outreach support worker of CINHS Wayne Nipshank, WTTR coordinator Susan Clarke, as well as volunteers from CINHS, Native Friendship Centre, the Health Arts Research Centre and incredible community members.

We are so grateful to have had the Health Arts Research Centre be a part of this event’s success in making our community’s young people become active engagers in Truth and Reconciliation.