Get ready to Rock Your Roots
- NC Raine | June 21, 2019
Of many Reconciliation themed events and initiatives that have taken place in Saskatchewan over the years, very few are as popular as the annual Rock Your Roots Walk. Taking place on June 21st, National Indigenous Peoples (NIP) Day, Rock Your Roots is a day for people to recognize and celebrate heritage, culture, and the contributions of First Nations and Metis people. Every year, thousands gather for the Rock Your Roots Walk to march and dance in the spirit of reconciliation.
“It’s a chance to come together to educate ourselves, and celebrate the strengths of some of the Indigenous voices in our community, as well as celebrate all cultures,” said Rhett Sangster, Director of Reconciliation and Community Partnerships at the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
The theme of the 4th annual walk is ‘Re-igniting the Fire’, a reminder to that reconciliation is not to be assigned on to others but committed to as individuals, businesses, and communities.
“Reconciliation is a long-term process. So, we’re asking people if they can re-ignite the fire of Reconciliation in their lives,” said Sangster. “It’s this idea that you can’t delegate reconciliation – it’s a personal journey.”
Event organizers report that last year’s walk drew over 5,000 people, including nearly 2,500 students, faith-based groups, businesses, and residential school survivors.
During the walk, businesses are encouraged to close for a couple hours to allow their staff to join the walk. Everyone attending is encouraged to wear traditional clothing, be it regalia or any other clothing symbols that represent their culture.
“It has a major impact on our city. There are people coming together that may have not met each other under any other circumstances,” said Shirley Isbister, President of the Central Urban Metis Federation (CUMFI).
“It’s just amazing to see everyone out there together. That’s what Rock Your Roots is all about. We have so much racism in the city, and this is a way of fighting back to that racism,” she said.
The walk also marks an occasion to recognize residential school survivors, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and Sixties Scoop survivors. Along the walk will be music, speakers, performances, and of course, food!
“It brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together. It paves the way for our shared future,” said Isbister. “It’s showing our children and grandchildren that this is how we’re going to move forward.”