‘Walking together and learning together’

BROCKTON – A group of special guests from Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation made the Truth and Reconciliation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 30, in Walkerton one that will long be remembered.

Returning to Walkerton for the ceremony was Bev Nadjiwon, a member of the council. He was accompanied by Miptoon, and others.

A group of about 100 people, most clad in orange, in memory of the children who attended residential schools, gathered at Memory Lane in Walkerton at 6:30 p.m. They followed the special guests to the public library where the ceremony took place, starting with a moment of silent reflection.

Nadjiwon told the crowd that “things are changing,” at long last, and to help the process, “go out and learn the history.” He noted their own history was something he and his people weren’t taught – they had to learn it on their own, from their elders. “It’s something we can learn together,” he said, and expressed his appreciation for all those who came to the ceremony.

They said, “It’s important we walk together … every child does matter.”

Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody spoke on behalf of the municipality, and the county of Bruce, in saying how important it is “to walk together, so we can learn about the past so a tragedy like this can never happen again.”

The library steps have become the scene of an informal memorial to the victims of residential schools, and members of the crowd were encouraged to bring organic items such as flowers to place there. Many of those placing flowers were children.

A recording of the song, “Tie Our Spirits” was played, performed by Ojibwe students from St. Jospeh Catholic School in Port Elgin. The remarkable music video created by the students celebrates their cultural identity and shares a message of respect.

One of the organizers, Greg McLean, said the event was “our way of trying to be involved with the process of reconciliation … a small step in the Call to Action.”

The latter statement was a reference to the 94 Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

This was the second year the Truth and Reconciliation event has been held in Brockton.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times