SD73 Acknowledges the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Posted On Wednesday October 04, 2023

By Diane Jules, Trustee

October 4, 2023


Today, I am writing to you as a Secwepemc First Nation mother, sister, daughter, and auntie.

I am honored to be the daughter of a survivor of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. I am also proud to be a member of the Adams Lake Indian Band and a trustee who represents the TNRD Areas L and P, the Village of Chase, and the Municipality of Sun Peaks. 

In SD73, we recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an important day to honor and acknowledge that we are living on the traditional territories of the Secwepemc people. In celebrations that have taken place during the week of September 25-29, I am grateful to elders and knowledge keepers who welcomed guests to the territory and to those who shared stories of the care that First Nations have taken to nurture Mother Earth that has sustained us physically through food and medicines that grow on the land, and spiritually through ceremonies, stories, celebrations held on the territories where our ancestors live.

In various activities that took place over this past week, participants learned about Aboriginal ways of knowing and being, and about historical truths of living in residential schools and being impacted by the Sixties Scoop, as well as more recent examples of racism and discrimination. These truths are hard to hear and traumatizing for those impacted, but when we continue to learn together about them, it is an opportunity not to repeat them, to engage in reconciliation.

One example of a powerful guest speaker was Carolyn Anderson who has been a District Coordinator of Aboriginal Education and now a TRU professor who provided the gift of her personal story of being a Sixties Scoop Survivor. She shared how she was taken from her birth mother and grew up not knowing her First Nations community, language, or tradition. Carolyn spoke about her gratitude for being raised by an adoptive mother who was half English and half Cree, and she said, “I believe the half Cree part of my adoptive mom helped me cope during my childhood as she was authentically Indigenous in many ways.” She went on to share, “Understanding Indigenous ways of knowing and being helped me feel connected, safe, loved, and understood which was very important as most Sixties Scoop survivors feel disconnected from their lives.”

I am grateful to the collaboration between SD83, SD73, and Adam’s Lake Indian Band who brought the Kulak family from Saskatchewan who shared their story of discrimination that had a good result of establishing National Ribbon Skirt Day. The Kulak family members (Chris, father; Lana, mother; and Bella, Malena, Salena, Christina, Shania, five of their daughters) came together to support Bella who is from the Cote First Nation to share her story.

On January 4, 2023, Bella was bullied for wearing her ribbon skirt, a skirt that she was proud of and that was gifted to her to wear in traditional ceremonies. The family members each spoke about how Bella was not herself following the incident at school where she was told that she should have worn something else, not her ribbon skirt. Bella explained that she felt a sense of shame, but she is glad to turn something hurtful into something good. On January 4th, they encouraged everyone to wear something on National Ribbon Skirt Day that represents their identity– a ribbon skirt or shirt, a hockey jersey, or any attire that reflects your heritage.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the week that has taken place in SD73 and in communities across Canada helps everyone to know the importance of truths that have happened historically and that, unfortunately, still happen today.

It is important to continue our collective commitment to learn about and not to forget the emotional weight of the stories told and retold. I am grateful to everyone who has taken time over this last week including on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect on what can be done personally and collectively to reconcile such tragic histories by taking steps together to prevent racism and discrimination, which are at the root of these histories and to set our hearts and minds to a more hopeful future.

I have shared before that being an Aboriginal person at this time within our history is exciting and hopeful. Never before have our voices had local, national, and international spaces to share stories, perspectives, and lessons with those who truly wanted to hear them. I am grateful to be part of a district community and provincial, national, and international community and time in history that not only acknowledges the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but who will walk together every day in the spirit of reconciliation.


This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on October 3, 2023.

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