COVID-19 isn’t going to prevent the community from the annual Walk for Reconciliation, but technology will make it possible for participants to stay safe.
The fifth annual walk to show solidarity with First Nations peoples affected by the residential school system in Canada will be a virtual walk instead of the traditional gathering of several hundred people who walk from Fort Langley to the site of the former St. Mary’s Residential School over a three-day period.
Pastor Ian Funk said the annual walk is intended as a tangible demonstration of support for the reconciliation process and to show that even though the Truth and Reconciliation Report and its recommendations were released in 2015, the community remains committed.
So far about 50 people are signed up. Last year’s in-person walk attracted more than 200 over the three sections of the 30-kilometre journey.
That value of reconciliation comes in moving through the painful history of residential schools and into new relationships. He added that people need to keep in mind that reconciliation is a positive thing in the end.
“It helps with the hurt,” commented Funk, with the Langley Mennonite Fellowship.
Going virtual is the biggest change for the annual walk but it’s not the first time organizers have had to be flexible.
“I think that over the course of the five years, we’ve been adapting all along,” Funk said. “For the past few years, it’s been about how the Fraser River is flooding.”
The walk is hosted by the Reconciling Church, the Mennonite Central Committee, and the United Churches of Langley.
People can register online at reconcilingchurch.eventbrite.com.
Then they do the walk on May 29, 30 or 31. Organizers are inviting participants to post photos on the event Facebook page.
Organizers hope that because the walks have gone virtual this year that maybe people from outside the community will see the value of participating and it could foster the creation of solidarity walks in other locales.