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Hundreds gather for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation walk

For the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the Syilx Okanagan Nation invited residents to support victims of Indian Residential Schools.

The “Walk for the Children” started at the Penticton Peach where over 200 people donned their brightly coloured shirts in support of survivors and those who lost their lives in residential schools.

“The amount of orange shirts show the acknowledgement of this day and what it means to our people. It’s the next step like we’ve all been in grief since the bodies were found,” said Debra Crow.

The five-kilometre walk was another form of raising awareness about the ongoing trauma.

“The stories are painful but that’s our lives, that’s how we’ve come up,” said Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow.

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“My grandmother was in residential school and I’m still feeling the effects of it now as we move on. I pray that our younger generations come up, they’re gonna start feeling it less and less but they’ll never forget.”

Read more: ‘The future is bright’: Orange Shirt Society founder on 2nd Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Penticton Indian Band says resources and education have grown over the recent years but the next step they want is action.

“I hear far too often that they want to carry out discussions in the spirit of truth and reconciliation and that’s all they say but there’s no real substantive action behind that,” said Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel.

Since the recent discovery of unmarked graves, many people have asked how they can show support and while there’s not just one solution, the band believes showing compassion is a good way to start.

“Part of grief is there’s anger, denial, avoidance, you name it. It’s really hard to stop and help those people understand what they can do. What they can do is support us, what they can do is love us unconditionally,” said Debra Crow.

“Truth and reconciliation, it’s the truth. Stand up hear the truth, research the truth and educate yourself.”

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The walk concluded at the Syilx Indian Residential School monument.