Vancouver Walk for Reconciliation aims to continue mission started 4 years ago
'We have a dialogue going on in this country that's never been held before'
Four years ago, approximately 70,000 people took to the streets of Vancouver for a somewhat novel cause at the time: reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous people.
"It was phenomenally exciting," recalled Chief Robert Joseph, co-founder of Reconciliation Canada and a residential school survivor.
"We had no idea just how many people would show up, because, at that time, the movement on reconciliation was still very early, and we didn't know whether or not the message was resonating."
Joseph is hoping for an even larger turnout at this Sunday's reconciliation walk, which starts from the same place the original 2013 event did in downtown Vancouver.
Still much to do
Joseph says Canadians still have a long way to go when it comes to reconciliation, but he's encouraged by the progress made since the inaugural walk — even symbolic things, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussing reconciliation at the United Nations.
"It's still gut-wrenching to be reminded about the conditions that have existed over time in our communities," Joseph said. "[But] I was happy that he pointed it out, because the more we confront our historical wrongdoings and shortcomings ... the more we're going to be able to contribute to the notion of reconciliation."
Four years ago, when the first walk was held, Joseph says such conversations weren't even on the radar. He says the mere fact that conversations are happening is progress.
"For survivors, [it's] a symbol and message to them that others do care and that they [aren't] alone in their suffering," he said.
Start by listening
For Canadians looking to foster reconciliation in their own lives, Joseph says the most important thing to do is to listen.
"Listen really carefully to what's happened in our country to Indigenous people and all other Canadians," Joseph said. "Read and learn."
Joseph says all Canadians will benefit from reconciliation — not just Indigenous people.
"We have a dialogue going on in this country that's never been held before," he said. "I think that once all of us continue to go down that road, we are going to transform this country."
The Walk for Reconciliation starts at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24 at the intersection of Cambie and Georgia streets. It will follow a two-kilometre route to Strathcona Park, where a reconciliation expo will be held between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.