On Saturday, several events and activities will be held at the Muskoseepi Park Amphitheatre to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 30th, The Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Services will start the day by hosting a pipe ceremony, with the registration opening shortly after for the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre’s 5k Run and Walk. Database Administrator for the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre Sheila Moerkoert says this is the first year the Friendship Centre has opened registration at 9 a.m. on the day of the event, with the walk/run starting at 10 a.m.
“The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre has spent the past couple of weeks getting ready for this event, and what we have done in the past is along the route, we have put orange shirts and on those orange shirts are the names of over 140 residential schools and the number of children that have been found at those residential schools,” Moerkoert says. “You will find that information as you walk along the path this weekend. It is an event where people can come out and honour the children who never returned home, survivors of residential schools, and those families who were impacted by residential schools.”
Following the 5K Walk and Run, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Sub-Committee chair Shauna Livesey says GPACOS has put together a program that lends to learning about the impact residential schools have had years later.
“We have Rosanne Mustus, and she is an indigenous elder who works in Alberta Health Services as a social worker, and she was impacted by residential schools as a survivor herself. So she really wants to talk about her story and experiences within the residential school system,” Livesey says. “We also have Omarla Cook, who is a team lead with the Grande Prairie [and District] Catholic Schools, and she oversees the indigenous liaisons. She will talk about her experience as an intergenerational survivor and how it has impacted her life.”
Along with the speakers, there will also be a free barbeque from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Muskoseepi Park and free chilli at the Veterans Memorial Gardens from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. For the Friendship Centre’s 5K Run and Walk, the Moerkoerk says the first 200 people to register will receive a medal marking the day.