By Bev Hadland
On September 30th, as we observe the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation, I am deeply grateful for the privilege of walking alongside Canada’s First Peoples as friends, listening and learning during our time together in fellowship.
This significant statutory holiday serves as a poignant reminder of the legacy of residential schools and the profound impact they had on generations of families. Recently, Crossroads had the opportunity to support one of our remarkable First Peoples champions, Rebecca Sylvestre, Director of the Turnor Lake/Birch Narrows Community Kitchen. In August, Rebecca and her family journeyed to Beauval Residential School to stand in solidarity with the families and elders visiting the recently discovered unmarked graves of 83 children. In 2021, First Peoples Voices assisted 28 Indigenous individuals in visiting the Kamloops residential school, where 215 missing children were marked with red flags across the orchard lands.
Rebecca, along with her parents who themselves were residential school survivors, recognized the emotional toll this visit would take on the families. They selflessly spent their time cooking and caring for those who attended the event, ensuring that proper protocols and ceremonies were observed to honour the lost children.
Throughout this painful week of healing, solidarity, and hope, survivors shared heart-wrenching accounts of physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse, including stories of children dying under suspicious circumstances and babies perishing at the school. It was a week that brought healing, unity, and a sense of hope for the future—a week that will be etched in our memories forever.
Rebecca is smiling as she BBQ’s fish and moose meat the old-fashioned way. It made her feel so good to be able to serve the families this way.
Rebecca’s young son is enjoying the sunset, thankful he never had to go to a residential school like the three generations before him did.
As we approach September 30th, I invite you to take a moment to learn about Canada’s First Peoples and their rich history. Join me in prayer as we walk in love alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters, remembering the profound words of John 13:35: “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Teepees were set up for families to gather around inside and outside, sharing stories and forging new friendships.
Watch the 100 Huntley Street special as we stand together in unity and remembrance on this National Day of Truth & Reconciliation.
Together, we honour the past, embrace the present, and build a future rooted in love and understanding.