A Pitt Meadows woman is urging the community to join in on the walk challenge to honour residential school survivors and victims.
Local Stacey Loyer, an Indigenous woman from the Wet’suwet’en Nation and Xaxli’p Nation, has joined in on a challenge issued by Candice George, a Dakelh artist of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, to walk 1.2 kilometres, at least three times per week during the month of September, leading up to the first federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. She is now urging the community to participate in this walk called ReconciliACTION Walk.
George issued the challenge to remember four young boys, aged 7 to 9, Allen Patrick Willie, Andrew H. Paul, Morris Johnson and Johnny Michel, who in 1937 fled from the Lejac Residential School where they were forced to attend. Their bodies were later found frozen, on the Fraser Lake, just 1.2 kilometres away from their village.
For Loyer however, this walk is about more than the four boys, but about keeping the conversation around residential schools going.
“There was a lot of meaningful conversations and deserved attention on this topic when news broke of the 215 graves found back in June. Our community has been amazing in listening, asking questions and educating themselves on the awful system of Indian Residential schools. I want to keep the conversation going, and I want to keep this in the minds of everyone,” she said.
Loyer’s father is a residential school survivor from the Kamloops Indian residential school, and both her maternal grandparents are survivors of the Lejac residential school, she said.
“The news of the 215 graves of children found at the Kamloops IRS was a shock to everyone, but that was, and is a reality for so many indigenous. For us, it was not a discovery, but a confirmation of what so many residential school survivors knew,” she said.
With this walk, Loyer is hoping to promote healing, education, awareness, action and overall wellness.
“The story of the four boys who ran away from Lejac is only one example. I want to keep the conversation going, and keep awareness up front on the struggles of Canadian indigenous people, both historically and today,” said Loyer.
She explained that George’s goal is to get commitments from everyone walking, to total at least 6,509km, which is one kilometre for every child’s grave found on the grounds of a residential school so far.
To sign up for the walk and have walking kilometres logged towards the goal, people can visit: https://candicegeorge.com/reconciliaction.
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