This past weekend the Honour Walk was able to display an photo installation at MennoFolk, in Winnipeg, MB. The installation consisted of photos, a write up, the walkers shoes, walking sticks, the Honour Walk vehicle magnets, and tobacco gifted to us by aborignal friends along the way. The write up is shared below.
This write up was based on a portion the presentation the Honour Walk gave at the TRC.
ART INSTALLATION WRITE UP
The Honour Walk consisted of a group of Christians from Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory. The 550 km walk began on March 8th at Stoney Knoll, Saskatchewan. It ended on March 27th at the sacred fire of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Edmonton, also know as Treaty 6 Territory.
– the 150,000 Indigenous children who were separated from their communities and forced to attend Indian residential schools
– the many children who ran away from those schools, but never made it home
– survivors who have courageously spoken their truths and continue to do so
– Indigenous groups who have walked incredible distances for their communities and to bring awareness to current injustices
The idea for this walk came from a group of Christians connected to Student Christian Movement Manitoba, who for the past eight months have been exploring issues of building indigenous settler solidarity in Winnipeg. We walked to honour the many stories of survivors of the residential and day school systems. These include stories heard in Winnipeg, stories from the Young Chippewayan First Nation, Little Pine First Nation, Poundmaker Cree Nation and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation along with others during the walk. Lastly, this walk is to honour the many survivors stories were heard at the Edmonton TRC. We want to recognize these stories and chose a walk as one of the ways to remember and honour these living testimonies.
Although there were only four walkers, there were many in our home communities that commissioned us on their behalf. As we walked for twenty days, there were also groups of students and church communities back home that fasted and prayed to recognize residential and day school survivors. As a group, we represent communities that are wanting and needing to learn the history of residential schools and their ongoing impacts on indigenous communities across Canada. As our group walked across treaty six, we further learned the difficult history of the residential schools through community gatherings and passer-bys who stopped to share their stories. We celebrated the strength and gifts of indigenous communities through ceremony and hospitality. We were also blessed by the many church communities who opened their doors for conversation on settler-indigenous issues, including discussion on residential schools, treaties, and land justice. Further, we were honoured with an invitation to present at the TRC and share our act of reconciliation. We offer gratitude for the many blessings along the way.
For those of us involved, whether we were walking or fasting or supporting in other ways, this a pilgrimage of listening and learning. These actions have been an opportunity for us to reflect on our own traditions and theologies that have legitimized the residential school system. These actions have been an opportunity to examine the ongoing colonial narrative that we as non-indigenous settlers continue to benefit from. And during the season of lent, these actions have been a time to lament the legacy of residential schools as we commit to work for right relationship with our indigenous brothers and sisters, with the creator, and with the land. As we learn to journey with our aboriginal neighbours, we invite you to join us.
The Installation was curated by Matt Vieth and Brandi Friesen Thorpe.