- Category: news
- Created: Thursday, 19 September 2013 15:09
- Published: Thursday, 19 September 2013 15:09
- Written by Administrator 3
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Squamish Nation members take part in Canada-wide Reconciliation Week
With each paddle stroke, Alice Guss felt more connected to her past.
As the canoe sliced through the water, the Squamish Nation member was getting closer and closer to her ancestors. Now known as False Creek, three generations ago — when Guss’s relatives lived there — it was known as Snakw.
On Tuesday (Sept. 17), Guss launched her canoe from Vanier Park heading up False Creek along with a fleet of approximately 100 canoes, dragon boats and paddleboards. The All Nations Canoe Gathering, initiated in 1989, marks Reconciliation Week — seven days (Sept. 16 to 22) recognizing the thousands of aboriginal children sent to residential schools during the government’s 120-year program.
Guss’s grandparents and parents were among those students. Her mother boarded at an Anglican church school in Alert Bay, while her father attended a Roman Catholic-run facility in North Vancouver. Both seldom talked about the experience, and when they did, the memories weren’t pleasant.
“My dad would speak about getting whipped all the time when he spoke his language,” Guss said. “But Skwxwu7esh snichim is all he knew.”
The schools created a string of broken homes, as adults who grew up without parents became parents themselves, Guss said. That’s all changing. First Nations are in the midst of a cultural resurgence.
“A lot of our language and culture is coming back and that is our strength,” she said.
Aboriginals from Australia, Thailand and across Canada took part in the canoe gathering. It’s important to remember and bring awareness to injustices minority groups worldwide face, to enable society to move forward, Guss noted.
“There are so many people that are not aware of what our parents and grandparents went through,” she said.
On Saturday (Sept. 14), the Squamish Nation held a wellness and healing day in the Squamish Valley as a part of Reconciliation Week. The nation is proud to support the event’s many activities and to host specific ventures for the nation, said Byron Joseph, co-chair of the Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council.
“Reconciliation and healing starts at home, but this event reminds us of the importance of reaching out to each other,” he said.
For more information visit www.reconciliationcanada.ca.