Community gathers to honour residential school survivors and those who never made it home

by | Sep 30, 2023

Woodstock First Nation recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with sunrise service; drumming ceremony planned for 3 p.m.

Over a dozen people gathered at the Woodstock First Nation ceremonial grounds by the Wolastoq River at sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 30. (See video posted below.)

Elder Lisa Sappier lit a sacred fire and conducted the sunrise service to mark the start of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“I am so happy to see all of you here this morning on a very important day for our people,” said Sappier. “It’s nice to see our allies, our neighbours, and our friends come and participate in this ceremony.”

Chief/Sakum Tim Paul was on hand for the sunrise service. He says that while there is more awareness related to the need for reconciliation, more work still needs to be done.

“There’s a little bit more understanding, a little bit more awareness, but we have to get a little bit better in getting the message out, and the educational side of it, and we’re working on that, that will come. I hate to say this, but it’s the province that we have the biggest issue with in regard to roadblocks. I am happy with the progress (of awareness and understanding), but not with, really, all levels of government when it comes to the 94 recommendations.”

Sakum Paul is referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system. The report outlined 94 ‘calls to action’ for Indigenous and non-Indigenous to come together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation.

A community barbecue planned for today was cancelled due to a death in the community. Today’s drumming ceremony, scheduled for 3 p.m. at the ceremonial site behind Maliseet Fuels I, is still happening.

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