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Nazko First Nation provides healing for their residential school survivors

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is on Sept. 30
Nazko First Nations offered a juniper and spruce ceremony to their people. Chief Leah Stump said they are continually learning from their elders and practice ceremonies whenever they can. (Photo submitted)

As we approach National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, the Nazko First Nation is working hard to provide healing for their members, noted as resilient by Chief Leah Stump.

“One of the biggest achievements I’ve witnessed in my community is how strong our community is, being most of them are residential school survivors and the rest of us are second generation and so on.”

The Nazko First Nation is commemorating their survivors and the many who never returned home from residential schools with week-long events leading up to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

They’ll begin the week with an opening ceremony, including drumming and smudging, followed by a trip to St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School, where many survivors have not returned to since they left school. The school was only closed in 1981, after more than 100 years of cultural assimilation attempts and documented cases of sexual and physical abuse and deaths.

To follow up the Nazko members’ trip to the residential school site, there will be two wellness days for survivors and their offspring and, on the last day, a feast and closing ceremony, including a juniper and spruce ceremony. Lastly, they’ll join the Lheidli T’enneh First Nations in Prince George for a football game as the Nations continue to work together and “move further along in the road to truth and reconciliation.”

Chief Stump hopes the events will allow Nazko members to heal, an opportunity many have not had yet, and the children to learn, which the community is active in.

“They’re continually teaching us our ceremonies, our language and our different traditional and cultural activities. We are always learning something new and continuing to practice and bring it back to our people and to our children.”

Nazko Elementary School is one of the places where truth and reconciliation occur, which invites Nazko members to the school to participate in going on walks, doing ceremonies, bringing bannock and storytelling, said Stump. She noted Clara Clement, the Indigenous Education Support Worker, as being particularly wonderful in her support.

“I believe that things are getting better with people wanting to learn and understand our history.”

Chief Stump encouraged people to use the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to learn and attend local events happening in their area as a way to understand.

“It’s a good day for people to take in the festivities and ask questions.”

The Quesnel Tillicum Society - Native Friendship Centre is also hosting an open house available to the public on Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Soup and sandwiches will be provided as well as information and displays throughout the hall, including Orange Shirt Day and Truth and Reconciliation.

If elders wish to share their stories, they are invited to do so at the Friendship Centre.

READ MORE: Heart of Nazko community has better beat, west of Quesnel

READ MORE: ‘Dream come true’: Williams Lake First Nation chief to dance at Canucks game

From the Nazko First Nations, the Eldzi Drum Group drums for a tobacco ceremony. Tobacco and prayers are offered into the river for residential school survivors and those who didn’t make it home. (Photo submitted)

Kim Kimberlin

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin

My journey into writing began as a child filling journals with my observations and eventually, using my camera.
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