Reconciliation Week Comes to Langara

Reconciliation Week Comes to Langara

Vancouver, BC – Elders, representatives from Aboriginal communities, and residential school survivors presented a panel discussion at Langara College yesterday to a crowd of more than 150 students, staff, and faculty.

Gail Sparrow

Elder Gail Sparrow addresses the crowd at Langara's Truth and Reconciliation Panel. Photos: Jennifer Oehler.

The event, organized by the College to compliment the Truth and Reconciliation national event happening in Vancouver, created a forum for story sharing and progressive dialogue that was meaningful and impactful. The discussion was moderated by College Elder-in-Residence Gail Sparrow, a former chief of the Musqueam Nation, and speakers included Grand Chief Edward John of the Tl'azt'en Nation, Ntle'kepmx Elder and Langara faculty member Mary Jane Joe, Musqueam Elder Shane Pointe, Ojibwe Elder Queenie Commanda, and Dr. Rosalin Miles of the Lytton Nation, who serves as President of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society and Executive Director for the Aboriginal Physical Activity and Cultural Circle (APACC). Langara graduate Christie Charles, of the Musqueam Nation, drew the crowd to their feet with a warrior song to start the event.

The panel was opened by Grand Chief John, who serves as Political Executive to the First Nations Summit, and North American Representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Grand Chief John shared some background on his own residential school experience and his hopes for reconciliation. “You cannot force reconciliation,” he said, “but we’re having a dialogue – not with the government, or the church… we think it’s really important to bring this discussion to the people.”

Edward John“As our people grow stronger and we move forward, we reach out our hands to each other to say we need to work together,” he added during his closing remarks.

Over the course of two hours the remaining speakers shared appalling accounts of the residential school system as well as inspiring tales of survival, and their own visions of what truth and reconciliation mean.

“The importance of an event like this cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Brad O’Hara, Langara’s Vice-President Academic and Provost. “I’m proud that our own community here at Langara has come together to honour the suffering of Aboriginal peoples and to show a commitment to truth and reconciliation.”

A team of 100 Langara community members will be joining the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver on Sunday, September 22. The walk will serve as the finale event of Reconciliation Week.

Learn more:
Annie Mullins
Communications Officer
Langara College

Grand Chief Edward John speaks to the crowd.

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