National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a step forward for Oak Bay

On Sept. 30, our community took an important step forward. Hundreds of us gathered in front of the Sno’uyutth Welcome Pole on the grounds of Oak Bay High School to “spread good energy,” honour the survivors of residential schools and their families, and remember the children who did not come home. Thank you to everyone who ignored the cold and rain on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect, listen and learn, and take another step in our walk towards reconciliation. It was particularly gratifying to see so many children there.

Thank you as well to Yuxwelupton Bradley Dick from the Songhees Nation for his words of wisdom and encouragement and to his granddaughter, Kaydence, for joining the ceremony.

And thank you to the Black Press for the stories of survivors, resilience and resurgence, and the resources in its special series on Truth and Reconciliation published the same day.

ReconciliACTION Oak Bay, its member organizations and partners are committed to advancing the important work of reconciliation in our community through concrete action. The Sept. 30 ceremony and the full-house Witness Blanket film screening on Oct. 1 are the beginning steps for our network. We look forward to moving ahead together with the community through a variety of events and initiatives between now and next year’s community-led gathering (and with a more reliable sound system).

It was good to see some members of council at the gathering. The tremendous community response is more clear evidence that Oak Bay residents want to engage deeply and work actively towards truth and reconciliation. They rightly expect more leadership and action in this crucial area from our council members. They want to know that council members will honour their unanimous commitment made on March 22 to “more meaningful and collaborative ongoing working relationships with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations” and to advance reconciliation through “local initiatives and projects.” And they want to know those words will be backed up by visible deeds. ReconciliACTION Oak Bay is prepared to both encourage and support council’s actions in this direction.

Rev. Michelle Slater,

Oak Bay United Church

Rev. Canon Craig Hiebert,

St Mary’s Anglican Church

Bruce Kilpatrick,

Community Association of Oak Bay