Lethbridge kicked off Truth and Reconciliation Week with an opening ceremony on Sept. 26. It included speakers, performances and a flag raising. Many events will take place across the city for the week leading up to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
“TRC week is the result of the city of Lethbridge being one of the first cities in the country to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. That’s something that I make sure that I share with folks across the province and indeed across the country when I am talking about what kind of city Lethbidge is,” said Shannon Phillips, Lethbridge West MLA. “We have this week’s activities in place because of the hard work of a number of volunteers and other community leaders and because the city has set it as a priority.”
Mike Bruised head spoke at the opening ceremony and said a Blackfoot prayer. “I acknowledge all of you and I see a lot of orange here and I respect you for that. It’s coming from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I did my time in boarding school. September 7, 1964 and I got out of there June 28, 1976. I wasn’t sexually abused, but I saw, I heard and I even smelled abuse. Imagine that — and so I am thankful, and still alive, that I am not buried unknown in some grave behind some school or residential school building.”
Bruised Head said he did not want reconciliation to be a one week, or one day thing. He would like to see a booklet put together by the city, which would show the history of Blackfoot people on local government and organization boards, along with a current list of Indigneous organizations.
“We are tough son of a gun people, us Blackfoots — we have gone through heck and we have come back and we are going to make a lot of input in future years,” he said.
Phillips said it is important to see Indigneous people represented in government and community organizations.
“Every aspect of social, economic and political life, we need to see Indigenous, Métis and Inuit people fully represented so that we can build the kind of society that the TRC recommends that we build,” she said.