It was of a sea of orange shirts and colourful ribbon dresses at the White Bear First Nations powwow grounds on Sept. 30.
This was the second annual National Day for Trust and Reconciliation, held to recognize the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system.
The day started with a two-kilometre smudge walk from the White Bear Lake Resort store to the powwow grounds. Nearly 65 participated. After a barbecue, the audience was treated to a lively hour of singing by Riverside Dakota and dancing by the youngest children and the oldest elders.
Ivan Lonechild was the master of ceremonies on this day. Lonechild is a community elder, school board member and a knowledge keeper.
Later in the afternoon, there was a moment of silence to honour those who didn’t make it home from residential schools. A memorial song followed.
Elder Harold Blacksmith from the Sioux Valley Dakota Pipestone Nation in Manitoba was the guest speaker. Blacksmith was given up for adoption when he was four months old and raised by his grandparents. He attended Indian residential school as did nearly everyone back in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
Having recovered from both a massive heart attack and a kidney transplant, Blacksmith said, “Truth and reconciliation has been found within me.”
He was honoured to be the guest speaker on this afternoon.
In appreciation, Chief Annette Lonechild presented Blacksmith with a lovely print titled The Indian Ten Commandments. She thanked the crowd for attending at which time gifts were presented to all those who either had a relative attend residential school or those who had attended themselves. A long braid of sweetgrass was one of the gifts provided.
Just before the event concluded with the traditional feast, an amazing event occurred. Soaring hundreds of feet high in the air and directly over the amphitheater, was a large eagle. It was like the Truth and Reconciliation Day was met with approval by someone higher up.