Port Alberni walks for Truth and Reconciliation

Gitxsan residential school survivors drum and dance before the march in Port Alberni on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Gitxsan residential school survivors drum and dance before the march in Port Alberni on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Walkers depart from Harbour Quay on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Walkers depart from Harbour Quay on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Deshana Sanderson and her daughter Locklynn decorate a truck for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Deshana Sanderson and her daughter Locklynn decorate a truck for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Tseshaht First Nation elected Chief Councillor Wahmeesh Ken Watts grins during a song and dance session before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Tseshaht First Nation elected Chief Councillor Wahmeesh Ken Watts grins during a song and dance session before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Alberni Indian Residential School survivior Wally Samuel speaks to the crowd gathered at Harbour Quay before the walk on Sept. 30. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Alberni Indian Residential School survivior Wally Samuel speaks to the crowd gathered at Harbour Quay before the walk on Sept. 30. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Members of Tseshaht First Nation sing and drum before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Members of Tseshaht First Nation sing and drum before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Members of Tseshaht First Nation sing and drum before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Members of Tseshaht First Nation sing and drum before the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
A crowd of people departs from Harbour Quay in Port Alberni to march for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)A crowd of people departs from Harbour Quay in Port Alberni to march for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Members of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs took part on the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)Members of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs took part on the walk on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
A crowd of people departs from Harbour Quay in Port Alberni to march for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)A crowd of people departs from Harbour Quay in Port Alberni to march for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

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.

READ MORE: Totem pole unveiled in Port Alberni

At Maht Mahs, walkers shared food, stories, singing and dancing around a centre fire.

IndigenousPort AlberniTruth and Reconciliation