YORKTON - Truth and Reconciliation Day was marked in Yorkton Saturday with a march down Broadway Street followed by speakers at City Centre Park.
Chief George Cote said the day is one where the survivors of residential schools must be remembered.
“We’ve been going through a lot of pain and history . . . It’s a painful past a lot of our elders have talked about.”
Cote said it can not be forgotten children were taken from their families and put into residential schools where their language was stripped from them, their culture taken away and they were told the way of life they knew was evil.”
But First Nations are “coming back strong,” said Cote, adding they are reclaiming their languages and cultures.
“We’re still here and still fighting,” echoed Mary Musqua-Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan.
Tribal Chief Isabel O’Soup said the past cannot be forgotten.
“We don’t want to forget the atrocities they endured for us,” she said.
Musqua-Culbertson said the effects of residential school are still being felt.
“We have to keep talking about it . . . We have to talk about our feelings, talk about what’s going on,” she said.
But Musqua-Culbertson also had a warning that even with talk it will be difficult to overcome the scars of the past.
“We have to stop denying we’re affected,” she said. “. . . We may never be 100 per cent healed.
Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley said the day and its events in the city were “so incredibly important.”
Hippsley said the day was important because it fosters conversations.
“The stories you will hear today are about truth,” he said, adding in the process of reconciliation “. . . truth comes first.”
O’Soup picked up on the theme of conversation.
“We need to communicate more on a day-to-day basis . . . We need to get to know each other more,” she said.
Hippsley said through a process of education he hopes for a better future, and that walking together symbolizes that joint future.
That the process is undertaken by everyone is crucial, said Hippsley.
“We are all treaty people who walks the lands of Canada,” he said. “. . . We are all in this together to repair the past and build a great future for everyone.”
Cote agreed with the vision of a better future.
“We know things will only get better by understanding each other,” he said.