FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) – A 130-kilometre Memorial Walk in Solidarity concluded this week at Snye Point Park in Fort McMurray.
Chief Vern Janvier and members of Chipewyan Prairie First Nation gathered on July 1 at the Janvier Health Centre for a walk in memory of Residential School survivors and the thousands of children who never made it home.
It took seven days for the Memorial Walk to make its way to the Snye River, gaining momentum along the way as more and more supporters joined in.
In the end, approximately 350 Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous supporters – including the five First Nation Chiefs representing the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC), the Treaty 8 Grand Chief, and Métis leaders – walked into Snye Point Park where a Memorial Gathering in Solidarity took place.
Over the course of the day, more than 1,000 people attended to show their support, listen and learn from Residential School survivors who bravely shared their stories.
“I’m very proud of the ATC staff and our First Nation and Métis communities who all worked together to make this a true community event,” said Karla Buffalo, CEO of Athabasca Tribal Council.
“This is a time when our community members are reliving the trauma of residential schools and we wanted those members to know that we hear them and believe them when they tell us of the abuse and trauma they experienced at residential schools.”
ATC President Chief Allan Adam said Indigenous leaders are demanding action from governments, churches, and the public.
“When we look at the 94 Calls to Action, we see the systemic oppression that is actively held against our people,” he said in a press release.
“In six years, only a handful of the 94 calls to action have been completed. The Indian Act still holds power over how our people are treated and how we live. There is no reconciliation without action. We intend to call upon the federal government to change the Indian Act. It must change for the benefit of all First Nations.”
ATC Community Members who are in need of emotional support are encouraged to call the Athabasca Tribal Council’s IRS Support Worker, Lyn Chartrand, at 780-799-2461, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all Indigenous people.