A welcoming invitation for Truth and Reconciliation Day

For upcoming Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30, the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society sends out an open and inclusive invitation to all for hope, healing, celebration of culture, tradition and storytelling. Held at John Hendry Park, Trout Lake from 1 pm, the event will commence with a land acknowledgment and opening remarks with a member of the Squamish Nation.

Teachings from the Elders, Nisga’a survivors whose lived experience with the Indian residential school system will be shared onstage, while attendees will be offered an introduction to the Nisga’a language and dancing and drumming from a Nisga’a dance group, a first at the annual event. The event will also include a moment of silence to create a safe space and healing to truly ground oneself and reflect on the events of the day and what reconciliation means and the importance of sharing culture, values, teachings and customs.

There will also be appearances from various performers, including Nisga’a rap musician Justin Percival, as well as from Vancouver city councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato. Food trucks sharing traditional and mainstream food and other community associations will also be participating.

Ms. Kelly Gill, events manager, with the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society emphasizes that the event is for all.

“It is for uplifting and hope, inclusivity and understanding of the trauma First Nations have experienced, the hope and uplifting of shared lived experiences and coming together as one,” she says.

She speaks to the ethos of the Nisga’a as “One Heart, One Nation, One Path” or Sayt K’ilim Goot.

“[These events are] very important for restoring culture and roots, it’s very important for the [Society] to share this sacred part of the culture and come together as one, with the Nisga’a and the broader community,” she says. “Building equity, removing discrimination and the discussion of colonization is everyone’s responsibility.”

Sharing culture, heritage, storytelling and lived experiences

Building on the events from the past years for Truth and Reconciliation Day, language, culture and teachings will be a focus.

Ts’amiks member Sam McKay (Sim’oogit T’am Yee Smax). | Photo courtesy of Sam McKay

“[It will spotlight] the larger purpose of belonging and connecting our community with programs and services, to uplift our voices and share in one to one connection. Given the culture, the importance of family, coming together, taking care of each other [are central themes],” Gill comments.

On hand at the event will be community partners and associations such as the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, the First Nations Health Authority, Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society and Indigenous Innovations YVR, sharing educational resources and a presence for justice, equality and advocacy. Over 30 volunteers will be in attendance, and Gill is gracious and appreciative of the response and their involvement and wanting to be of service.

“Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to feel uncomfortable, just be with us, stand with us and learn, learn what Nisga’a teachings have for us,” Gill says. “There has been a resurgence in our community to celebrate our culture and identity, our cultural identity – which has been stripped away through the residential school process. For Elders, it is the experience of just being seen, being heard, being together. So many stories are forgotten, it is a feeling of home. It is difficult still, but they are on the path to healing.”

From Elders of the Nisga’a nation storytelling from the past and sharing teachings to those who have not attended a Truth and Reconciliation event before, a wide variety of people are expected on September 30th.

“We want people to be comfortable as we are growing and evolving understanding. Kindness, uplifting and the resilience in the human spirit, as we raise up our voices,” Gill says. “We aren’t going to be weakened. We are for inclusion and all our welcome. It is this ethos and our interactions with our community, the coming together and being open to collaboration.”

Wear your orange T-shirt or buy one onsite for $20, a design honouring the lost children and survivors from the Indian Residential School System, designed by Ts’amiks member Sam McKay (Sim’oogit T’am Yee Smax in Nisga’a) for Truth and Reconciliation Day.

For more information, please see: www.tsamiks.com