Rock Your Roots Walk celebrates diversity, reconciliation

People from all walks of life took to the streets of Saskatoon for the city's first Rock Your Roots Walk to celebrate the tapestry of cultures that make up the city.

Indigenous, faith-based groups walk together in Saskatoon

Hundreds walked to River Landing in Saskatoon for the city's Rock Your Roots Walk on June 22. (James Hopkin/CBC)

People from all walks of life took to the streets of Saskatoon for the city's first Rock Your Roots Walk to celebrate the tapestry of cultures that make up the city.

The walk was part of the city's Day of Reconciliation event, which featured live entertainment throughout the day at Victoria Park.

For Dory Cook, who is of Cree and Métis ancestry, the Rock Your Roots Walk is her way of paying tribute to residential school throughout the country.

"It's for our survivors," she said. "My grandmother was a survivor of the residential school, and I'm here to support all my ancestors and people that have gone before us, and here to support this day. For the people, for our community."

Dory Cook took part in the walk as a tribute to residential school survivors. Her grandmother once attended a residential school in northern Saskatchewan. (James Hopkin/CBC)

Hundreds of people representing many cultures — from faith-based groups to bus loads of elementary school students to residential school survivors — gathered at Victoria Park before the walk.

The walk symbolized some of the efforts the City of Saskatoon has made — leading up to its proclamation of a year of reconciliation — to be more inclusive of Indigenous people in general. Aboriginal Relations coordinator Gilles Dorval said those efforts began to take shape back in 2012 when the city worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to host one of its seven national events that year.

"We're trying to create the diversity in our community to get everybody to understand what happened, but move forward in a good way," Dorval said.

Mayor Don Atchison grabs a 'Reconciliation Saskatoon' T-shirt before the Rock Your Roots Walk. (James Hopkin/CBC)

Rhett Sangster, who works for the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, said that it's important to have a safe place for people to take in other cultures that they wouldn't normally be exposed to in day-to-day life.

"I grew up in this province in a small town, and didn't know much about my Indigenous neighbours. So we're trying to create spaces where people can get to know each other, learn about our cultures, different cultures that make up this province."

Click here for more on Day of Reconciliation activities.