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Events planned for Orange Shirt Day in Port Alberni

Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Gitxsan residential school survivors drum and dance before a march in Port Alberni on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

The Tseshaht First Nation will hold an Orange Shirt Day Walk for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Walkers will gather at Harbour Quay starting at 10:30 a.m. then start walking at 11 a.m. from Harbour Quay along Stamp Avenue to Maht Mahs gymnasium on Tseshaht First Nation land. The route will take walkers from Stamp Avenue to Nupc’kapis Way, through San Group property and along Victoria Quay to Clutesi Haven Marina. They will cross River Road and walk to the Orange Bridge, then past Tseshaht Administration Building to Maht Mahs Gym on Mission Road for 1 p.m.

A nutrition break has been planned along the way in front of the Hupacasath Welcome Figures at Victoria Quay. Lunch will also be served at Maht Mahs.

Walkers are welcome to “gather as we go,” a spokesperson said.

This year’s event features a special presentation to take place at 1:15 p.m. with Willie Blackwater and a contingent from Gitxsan First Nations.

Blackwater was the lead claimant in an abuse case against Henry Arthur Plint, a dorm supervisor at what was known as Alberni Indian Residential School. Plint was convicted in 2005 of abusing several young boys at the school.

Events at the Maht Mahs parking lot include two survivors groups from the Interior who will perform around a centre fire.

While closing remarks are scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., dancing and singing will continue throughout the day, and there is a dinner planned. A shuttle will be available to take walkers back to their vehicles.

There are other events happening around the Alberni Valley on Sept. 30.

Port Alberni Friendship Center will gather at the centre at 3555 Fourth Avenue to “walk as one” to Harbour Quay at 9 a.m. They will return to the centre at 10:45 a.m. From 11 a.m. to noon a social gathering, entertainment and other activities are planned. Lunch will be served between noon and 1 p.m. For more information, contact Jeff Jeffries at 250-723-8281.

San Group and carver Tim Paul will hold an event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the n’aasn’aas?aqsa totem pole beside Millstone Park on Victoria Quay Drive. The event will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the awakening of the pole at its final resting site, Paul said.

“It’s a time to look at family and healing for not only us but all of Port Alberni,” he said. “We want to look at building a healthy life for ourselves, using that pole in the centre as re-educating ourselves and our neighbours.”

The San Group event will feature speakers and refreshments, which spokesperson Amit Chandra Shekar said are available to those people walking in the Tseshaht First Nation’s event. San Group has donated one of its chalets to Paul to display Indigenous items, and that should be open for public viewing as well.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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