Saskatoon setting an example for reconciliation
- EFN Staff | July 31, 2018
Saskatoon is doing its part for reconciliation through various events and historical moments held within the past few weeks.
A towering new public artwork commemorating truth and reconciliation has been unveiled in Victoria Park in Saskatoon. Placed high on a grassy hill neighbouring Saskatoon’s River Landing and overlooking the South Saskatchewan River, the new artwork entitled “The Coming Spring” was unveiled to the public. The artwork is Saskatoon’s latest symbolic commitment to truth and reconciliation.
“In learning to speak the truth to each other, and in seeking reconciliation, we can see the promise here on that patch of grass in Canada’s coming spring,” said Gordon Reeve, the artist behind the new artwork.
On National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD), several celebrations were held in the city to celebrate and embrace the identity of Indigenous peoples.
The day started at 10:00 am with the third annual “Rock Your Roots” Walk for Reconciliation where a record crowd of over 4,000 people gathered in Victoria Park. This year’s walk theme was titled “Planting the Seed” with participants walking together, the seeds of reconciliation were planted to honour survivors and answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
“Last month, the Saskatoon Community Foundation made a four-year commitment to the Rock Your Roots walk, providing funding through to 2021,” read a statement from a media release. “The “Rock Your Roots” Walk for Reconciliation is one of a number of events organized by Reconciliation Saskatoon, an 88-member initiative of organizations, non-profits, businesses and partners who have come together towards one mission: to initiate a citywide conversation about reconciliation and provide opportunities for everyone to engage in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”
The walk ended at 11:30 a.m. and joined up with NIPD celebrations which included free lunch, special guest speakers and live entertainment hosted by the Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre.
The NIPD was also a significant time for the name unveiling for the north-end bridge. The North Commuter Parkway Bridge Naming Steering Committee announced “Chief Mistawasis” as the recommended name of the North Commuter Parkway Bridge.
“Prior to, and following Treaty No. 6, Chief Mistawasis was a bridge to changing times between people, communities and Nations,” said Mistawasis Chief Daryl Watson. “Mistawasis Nêhiyawak follows Chief Mistawasis’ legacy and belief in treaties, partnerships, alliances, friendships in sharing territories and all that Creator provides for us all.”
Chief Mistawasis was one of over 400 names that were gathered from the community as part of an extensive community engagement exercise that began last July. An integral part of the naming process was to educate the community on Indigenous people’s history, culture and contributions.
The North Commuter Parkway (NCP) Bridge Naming Committee consists of community leaders from Central Urban Métis Federation Incorporated, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the City of Saskatoon and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
“As we come together to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in Victoria Park and get involved in “Rock Your Roots” Walk for Reconciliation it’s fitting that we have chosen to name the North Commuter Bridge after Chief Mistawasis to acknowledge the contributions of those who came before us and strived to create a better future,” said Harry LaFond, Executive Director, Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
The bridge naming announcement was made prior to the kick-off of the “Rock Your Roots” Walk for Reconciliation and NIPD celebrations. The final recommendation for the name Chief Mistawasis to be applied to the bridge will be presented to City Council in August for formal approval.
“The process to bring us to this day has been one of learning and growth,” said Mayor Charlie Clark. “Reconciliation is a journey, and it is a journey that the City of Saskatoon is dedicated to continuing as we seek to bridge the divides within our community. Our Elders have been appealing to us to treat one another as relatives, which is a powerful starting place for building a stronger Treaty relationship for future generations.”
St. Paul’s Hospital and Affinity Credit Union unveiled reconciliation art murals as well as Reconciliation Saskatoon held a flag raising ceremony to honour residential school and Sixties Scoop survivors and the lives that were lost.