In Laird, Saskatchewan, representatives of local Indigenous, Lutheran and Mennonite communities welcomed the walkers to St. John Lutheran church to share about their mutual history and their efforts to heal wrongs of the past.
In the 1880s, the land of the Young Chippewayan First Nation was sold out from underneath their feet to Mennonite settlers. At a later point, Lutheran settlers moved in as well. The Young Chippewayan First Nation became a landless band and eventually its members were scattered. In the 1980s, two of their descendants initiated conversations with the settler communities – stating they did not intend to take the land back from the settlers, but that they just wanted to meet them. After a historic gathering, the group signed a memorandum that would mark an ongoing relationship and a commitment to working for land justice.
Since then, the three communities have worked together towards land compensation beginning with a genealogy of the Young Chippewayan First Nation.
After listening to these stories, the walkers left for Stoney Knoll on the outskirts of Laird. This remains a place of worship for the Young Chippewayan First Nation. Later, it became the site of the Lutheran church building, which was eventually moved into Laird. From this place, members of all three communities accompanied the walkers as they took the first steps on their journey to the TRC National Event in Edmonton.
Laurens Thiessen van Esch (Walker)
St. John Lutheran Church
Stoney Knoll Trailer