Manitoba

Every Child Matters motorcycle ride from Winnipeg to Brandon honours late advocate

About 50 motorcyclists went on a ride Sunday to honor children who died in residential schools.

Royal Riders, a Winnipeg-based group, rode to remember children who died at residential school, survivors

A group of 10 people, young and old, pose in a line in front of four parked motorcycles. Some people are wearing a mix of motorcycle riding-type clothing, like denim and leather vests or jackets, and some are wearing orange shirts or hoodies.
The ride was a way to honor survivors and their children, say attendees. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

About 50 motorcyclists, most members of the Royal Riders, went on an Every Child Matters ride Sunday to honour children who died in residential schools, as well as survivors.

The convoy started out from Dhillon Automotive on Pembina Highway and rode all the way to the Brandon Residential School. It was the second such ride, following one last year.

"If it's [just] one bike, I'll do it next year," said Bava Dhillon. His family owns Dhillon Automotive Group and his mother is a residential school survivor.

"As long as people are remembering what happened, acknowledging what happened and working towards fixing what happened," he said.

Dhillon, who is Cree and Sikh, said it is important to teach new Canadians the real story of how the country came to be.

"We have immigrant families coming to Canada without knowing the truth of the land and the rightful owners of this land," he said.

Two men, one holding a small child, stand smiling in a parking lot next to some motorcycles. The child is wearing a ribbon-decorated bonnet and ribbon skirt.
Bava Dhillon is pictured holding his daughter beside his father. He says the event is a way for people to remember residential school survivors. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

The discovery of what are believed to be unmarked graves at former Canadian residential school sites caught many off guard, said Dhillon, and many are still in mourning.

The ride is a way to show Canadians that everyone should stick together in tough times, Dhillon said, and also a way to honour survivors of residential schools.

"The children kind of take us where we need to go, but the elders show us how to get there," he said.

Last year, residential school survivor and longtime advocate Raymond Mason was part of the event. He has since died, and the riders honoured him and his legacy this year.

"I could never replace my father, but I do try to advocate and fight for survivors and Indigenous peoples in my own way," said Kyle Mason.

A man in an orange shirt stands smiling with his arm around his son's shoulder. A large vehicle and other people in orange shirts are in the background.
Kyle Mason with his son, Elijah. Mason said his son will continue the work he and his father did to fight for Indigenous rights. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

Mason said his father was taken to residential school as a child and the experience motivated him to fight for Indigenous rights in the 1980s, before most people were aware of residential schools.

Mason said his father spent the last couple years of his life fighting for justice for day school survivors.

It was important for him to bring his own son to the event, Mason said, since his father was around the same age when he was taken to residential school.

His family motto is to help people, Mason said, and part of that involves uncovering the horrors of residential schools. The work will continue with his son, said Mason.

"We cannot have a better future unless we're all on board when it comes to reconciliation."

A caravan of elders and Sixties Scoop survivors also had an honorary spot at the front of the convoy.

Corrections

  • We initially reported the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Manitoba went on the ride. In fact, the Royal Riders participated in the ride.
    Aug 04, 2022 2:53 PM CT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Özten Shebahkeget is a web reporter at CBC Manitoba. She is a member of Northwest Angle 33 First Nation, born and raised in Winnipeg's inner-city. She recently completed the MFA in writing program at the University of Saskatchewan, where she wrote a speculative verse novel set at the Manitoba Legislative Building. You can send feedback, ideas and tips to: ozten.shebahkeget@cbc.ca.

With files from Anne-Louise Michel

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