Editor’s note: The story below may trigger difficult or traumatic thoughts and memories. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s 24-hour crisis line is available at 1-866-925-4419.
Langley seniors gathered donations and went for a two-kilometre walk to commemorate the first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, Sept. 30.
About 30 people took part in a moment of silence outside the Langley Seniors Resource Centre, along with raising an orange flag to half mast, before the walk.
“It felt very important that the seniors centre take part,” said Loretta Solomon, chair of the LSRC board of directors.
Donations gathered before the event were for the Orange Shirt Day Society.
Taking part and speaking was Ceclia Reekie, a longtime Langley educator and former member of the Langley School Board.
“I live with the legacy of residential schools, as so many Indigenous people do across this country,” Reekie said.
Truth and Reconciliation Day was about education and sharing knowledge, she said, whether someone is at the beginning of learning, or has deep knowledge.
Her father was a residential school survivor, who recently died at the age of 90. He was a survivor of two residential schools before leaving at age 14 with a Grade 5 education.
He found Alcoholics Anonymous as a community and was a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Reekie said.
“I think he found joy in most days. Certainly he had his trauma that he carried, that we as his family understood,” she said.
But he was determined to “fight for another day” and passed along teachings to his children and grandchildren.
“We need another way of understanding respectful relationships with each other,” Reekie said.
Leading the walk was David Attrell, who is in his 90s and leads a regular walking group for the Seniors Resource Society.
“I think it’s time there was reconciliation,” he said.
The centre’s executive director Anthony Kupferschmidt raised an orange flag to half mast in front of the building before the walk.
“This is just a first step for us as an organization,” he said of the Thursday’s walk.