Residents around 100 Mile House had a few opportunities to take part in events marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre hosted an unveiling of a new piece of artwork by pencil artist Bryan Austerberry, entitled I Heard Your Voice in the Wind, inspired by the devastating history of residential schools in Canada.
Austerberry told the crowd of about 30 attendees that he felt compelled to create the artwork following the news earlier this year that the remains of 215 children had been discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“When I first heard that, there was something that just grabbed me inside,” he explained. “I knew I had to do something. And I had commission work I was doing, but I put it all aside.”
The drawing features several First Nations spiritual symbols including an eagle, hummingbird, the sun, moon, raven, salmon and loon, as well as an Indigenous baby meant to represent “all of the children denied life at residential schools.”
Austerberry said from the time he started the drawing, he knew he wanted to donate it to the Friendship Centre. He is also selling a limited number of prints, with $50 from each sale donated to Stemete7uw’i, specifically to help the centre find a new downtown location.
Paper Cranes for Hope was also on-site selling hand-made cranes, with proceeds going to the friendship centre and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
Over at Parkside Art Gallery, dozens of families took part in the StoryWalk, which featured The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad. The children’s book – which launched the Orange Shirt Day movement – shares the story of Webstad’s experience attending residential school as a child.
Team members with the 100 Mile House Wranglers spent the day reading the story to groups of children who visited.
Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy staff were also on hand, giving out teddy bears and free books by Indigenous authors, and said afterward that close to 40 children came by and took part in the StoryWalk.