Around 250 people came out on Saturday to join in the Walk for Children hosted by the Okanagan Nation Alliance on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
"Thank you to our elders for their wise words. Thank you to our people for singing and drumming loud and proud. Thank you to our allies for listening and showing your support," the ONA said on Saturday.
Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield issued a statement for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, adding that the sea of orange seen is an acknowledgment of the injustices of the thousands of children who were stolen from their families and placed in Indian Residential Schools.
"We honour the lives lost and continue our commitment to the process of reconciliation," he said.
“It’s a day that brings up horrific memories in Canada’s history and serves as a reminder of the impact of residential schools still felt today. It’s a day for some tough discussions and ownership of terrible decisions. And it is a reminder that these events happened right here in our community.
Dozens of people walked to the Syilx Okanagan Indian Residential School Monument, next to the hatchery – a location that was chosen as it is where the train and the cattle trucks came to gather the children to take them away from their families.
The ONA shared that this year many Indigenous people chose to wear a different shirt, as the orange shirts can be triggering as they are immediately reminded of residential schools.
"The shirts this year are blue and green to represent Earth colours and our connection to Mother Earth. The image on the shirts shows a family with children wearing orange shirts standing in a ceremony at Spotted Lake, a sacred place to our Nation. In the sky of the image, there are pictographs to represent our culture and our dreams," the said.
"We continue to welcome Orange shirts as they are a visual symbol of honouring and recognizing survivors."
The orange shirts stemmed from Phyllis (Jack) Webstad telling her story about her orange shirt being taken away from her when she first went to Residential School.
“The road to reconciliation won’t be easy, it doesn’t come with a map that shows the start and finish. Instead, the journey of reconciliation is a lifelong relationship where we walk side-by-side and discover the path together untainted by prejudices and infused by courage, honesty," Bloomfield said.
He encouraged everyone to continue to learn about the Indigenous history of the lands they reside on.
"We all have a role to play on the journey towards reconciliation.”
A special showing of Bones and Crows held at 325 Power Street at the Cleland Theatre has had a second showing added.
The film by Métis writer, director and producer Marie Clements, follows Cree matriarch Aline Spears through her life, including her experiences at residential school and the lasting, inter-generational impact it had on her family.The film features many members of the Penticton Indian Band including Summer Testawich who plays a young Aline Spears.
Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 for the 3 p.m. showing. Then at 5:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. showing.
Both showings (3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) are free of charge and tickets are not needed. Seating will be on a first-come first-served basis.