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Hobbema, AB, April 17, 2007: In conjunction with similar walks planned in seven different cities across Canada, for the second year in a row Samson Cree Nation organizers and members from the Four Nations participated in a National Aboriginal Holocaust Remembrance Day Walk and Rally on Sunday, April 15, 2007. The purpose of the Walk was two-fold, one, to bring an awareness of the hundreds of children who “went missing” during their stay at residential schools, their whereabouts unknown and buried beneath years of lies and deceit, and secondly, to pay tribute to survivors who passed on never knowing if there would ever be any resolution or acknowledgement for the pain and suffering they endured. The residential schools did their best to break the spirit of the Native person by taking away their culture, their traditions, their language and even their long beautiful braids, but according to event organizer Lorne Greene, “The soul of the First Nations is as resilient as the willow, no matter how hard the wind blows, the willow does not break.”
The participants, with a RCMP escort departed from Samson Bingo Hall for the 3KM walk to Ermineskin’s Bear Park at 1PM. The Maskwacis Singers sat atop a flat-deck, which was graciously donated that day by Pe Sakastew, began the Walk with an Honour Song. They continued to sing for the duration of the Walk, their voices and beat of the drum lifting the spirits of the many people who came to commemorate their loved ones.
Residential school survivors such as Dennis Greene, Flora Northwest, Mel H. Buffalo and Elder Joe Boysis, shared their experience in residential schools and its effects. The main belief expressed was of forgiveness, of self more importantly and then the perpetuator and moving forward to assist in their own healing. One by one, they pledged the ability to forgive, but not to forget, for it is in the remembrance that the hope lies that this atrocity will not happen again. Quoting an appropriate well-known phrase Mel H. stated, “Whatever doesn’t kill (us) makes us stronger.”
Showing the strength and determination of someone more than half his age, Elder Joe Boysis, of Pigeon Lake, completed the Walk well ahead of most of the young people. At the tender age of four, Joe entered residential school. “I cried and I cried and I cried,” Joe tells us, “I cried because I wanted my mom to hug me, and I kept crying until I had no more tears.” Joe spent 10 years in the residential school. “People did bad things to us, even now when I think about it, I have to go outside and (get sick), but I have to bring it out, that’s the only way I’m going to get better,” he stated.
Wendy Walker, a teacher at Samson High School, and a performing artist, performed a song that she wrote specifically for the Walk and Rally. Her music reflects the light that lives in each one of us and gives us hope, it tells us that each survivor has their own story and we cannot take that away from them, but we can move forward. “If I can touch one person in some small way with this song, something that makes them say to themselves, I could use some help here, that would be the most important thing,” stated Walker, “Music helps to heal.”
Wendy is a second-generation residential school survivor, having been impacted by her father, a residential school survivor.
Samson Cree Nation is a part of the four bands of Hobbema, Alberta, which is in the Treaty No. 6 territory located an hour southeast of Edmonton on Hwy 2 and Secondary Hwy 611 East.
For further information, please contact:
Samson Cree Nation
(780) 585-3793 ext. 277 (office)
(780) 312-4969 (cell)
(780) 585-2256 (fax)
To learn more about the song that was written and performed by Wendy Walker, contact:
Wendy Walker (780) 633-6549 (home)
To learn more about the residential school settlement process contact:
Lorne Greene: (780) 585-3793 (office)
(780) 352-7420 (mobile)
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