First Nations have the tradition of a trek while Christian have the tradition of the pilgrimage.
And the Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation from Fort Langley to Mission gives participants a chance to learn about their similarities and how to share the future.
“This walks offers the opportunity for our community to walk together in reconciliation,” explained Cecelia Reekie, with the community group Langley Reconciliation.
The walk is June 2, 3 and 4.
Langley Reconciliation is a community group comprising local activists, educators and churches, committed to acting on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The group includes parishes in the Langley area and specifically the Parish of St. George, Fort Langley, United Churches of Langley, Langley Mennonite Fellowship and Willoughby Christian Reformed Church.
“We are also partnering with All Saints Anglican Church in Mission for this project,” Reekie added.
The walk will start at Fort Langley National Historic Site, the birthplace of B.C. and “an historic bastion of colonialism in the region,” she explained.
The walk takes participants through to St. Mary’s in Mission, the site of the closest Indian residential school. The walk covers 35 kilometres over three days.
Up to 2,000 aboriginal children attended St. Mary’s, including many from this community.
“The route we are taking is the most practical and safest route to St. Mary’s Residential School,” she said.
People can take part in one, two or three legs of the journey. They can register through Event Brite. Participation is free. The walk starts with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. in the historic site and concludes with a feast in Mission.
A shuttle takes people to and from parking areas for each leg of the journey.
This long-distance journey concept arises from Bishop Mark MacDonald’s observation that the sacred walk is common to both Indigenous and Christian spirituality, Reekie said.
“While the event is being initiated by the local churches, it is open to all members of the community who wish to participate,” she noted.
The walk gives participants a chance to learn about Canadian history and the reconciliation process, relationship building, healing, culture and revitatization, education and more.
“As people are walking individuals chat with one another and relationships are built,” she said. “There will be activities at the opening and along the route for children and adults.”
Last year about 70 people took part in the walk and this year’s walk falls on the anniversary of the release of the federal Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its 94 Calls to Action.
“Walkers should be dressed appropriately for the weather and appropriate shoes,” Reekie recommended. “Also bring a long a water bottle and anything else you may need. Most importantly come with a clear mind and an open heart, to share an incredible experience.”