Chawathil First Nation is inviting the Hope community to attend their community event for Orange Shirt day and Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) day this Friday afternoon (Sep. 30).
The Chawathil chief and council are hosting a community event to dedicate picnic tables to residential school survivors and Indigenous members who didn’t make it home to their families. Taking place at the Telte-Yet campsite, at 600 Water Ave, the band welcomes the general public to the scheduled barbeque, drumming and singing, and “bench painting” event for Indigenous youth, elders, and residential school survivors.
“I think this is really important,” says Lucy Gouwenberg, Chawathil’s recreational coordinator. “It absolutely could be a very emotionally heavy day as well, but I think it’s super important that we acknowledge what has happened and who we’re going to move together and grow, and work, collectively as a community. [Especially] for future generations.”
Indigenous youth, elders, and residential school survivors can decorate the benches using their hands and orange paint. According to Gouwenberg, the benches cane be painted with hand-prints, messages, and “whatever speaks to them.”
The event was originally intended for the Chawathil community but was extended to the public in honour of TRC day’s purpose of educating people on the “dark” and troubling history Indigenous communities face with Canada.
“This is, I think, a step in the right direction,” says Gouwenberg. “The whole point of Truth and Reconciliation day, and Orange Shirt day, is to bring awareness and educate the public…so, this is a community event, not just a Chawathil event, for the community of Hope [too].”
The TRC and Orange Shirt day ceremony and event starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Those attending are asked to wear an Orange Day shirt as well as bring their own lawn chairs.