Hundreds of people in Port Alberni marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a march to honour residential school survivors and those who did not make it home.
The march, which was organized by Tseshaht First Nation, started at Harbour Quay and ended at the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS).
Many AIRS survivors joined for the march, including several Gitxan people who had travelled all the way from the Hazelton area. Wally Samuel, a residential school survivor and member of Ahousaht First Nation, said AIRS was made up of students from many different nations.
“We have people from all over B.C. who went to this school,” he said on Thursday.
The march travelled almost seven kilometres to Maht Mahs Gymnasium on the Tseshaht First Nation reserve, with stops at several locations including the Port Alberni Friendship Centre and the Orange Bridge. The group also stopped at the newly-installed totem pole, n’aasn’aas?aqsa, at Victoria Quay.
At Maht Mahs, walkers shared food, stories, singing and dancing around a centre fire.