YORKTON - The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was marked in Yorkton Friday and it was again an eye-opening experience to listen to the survivors of abuse at Indian Residential Schools told their stories.
They were of course sad tales, one which made one’s heart go out to all those who were forced into such terrible circumstances, both those who lived to tell their stories and those who died, often left to an unmarked grave.
It’s a dark chapter in the history of our country.
The idea of taking children from their families, isolating them from those families, their communities and their culture in a clearly racist attempt to eliminate the First Nations culture was and is reprehensible.
Which in that process the children were all too often handed over to those who abused them in mental, physical and sexual ways only deepens the tragedy.
The result is a deeply scarred community which is even now dealing with the effects of a generation of youth untethered from their culture, and dealing with the effects of abuse.
The situation is one which will forever be a time where Canada failed as a nation.
But, there is also a story here of resilience, and that is the positive we have to hold on to as we move forward as a community.
The First Nations people did not wither and die with the abuses of residential schools. They have persevered, and are now regaining what was lost, their languages, their ceremonies, their culture, their families.
In Yorkton last week a symbol of that resilience was officially unveiled in City Centre Park, where a stunning teepee sculpture now stands.
The sculpture is very much a symbol of First Nations people, those who were here first, but it is also about the hope of a better future.
We need to focus on that. We need a future that is better for everyone, and thanks to the Yorkton Tribal Council who funded the teepee project, we have something we can look to locally as something of a beacon calling us all to a better future.
We cannot forget the atrocities of the residential schools and their impact on the First Nations peoples of Canada, but as we come to learn the dark truths more fully, we must find a way to reconcile our differences and move forward as a stronger country.
May the teepee remind us of the importance of that journey.