People gathered in Grande Prairie for the 2nd annual painting of the crosswalk at 97th Avenue and 101 Street in support of Indigenous people, victims, and survivors of residential schools.
Organizer Meghan Zatko feels that it’s always an important event on the calendar.
“It’s really rewarding, surreal, and it’s exciting to see more support this year. Hopefully, next year more of the community will come out and it will continue to grow. It’s also great to know that there’s more awareness now for the Indigenous community,” she says.
Zatko says that for the most part she’s seen a very positive response from the community.
“Some people are asking why we can’t have statues. What I say to them is that this is one way we can show our support immediately to the Indigenous community.”
When people come to see the crosswalk, Zatko wants people to keep murdered and missing Indigenous women, unmarked graves for children of residential schools, plus sympathy and empathy for survivors of residential schools in mind.
“I think sometimes we forget about the survivors and we only think of the victims. They’re suffering just as much as the victims. They still have to live through the generational trauma and the lack of empathy that some people display toward them,” she says.
Zatko feels that we as a country must acknowledge our past mistakes and show Indigenous people that we want to make a change.
“It’s important to stand not only with them but beside them. Forcing them to abandon their beliefs for whatever reason is not okay. I think it’s important to own up to what has happened and start to make the change of saying that it will never happen again,” she says.
Zatko adds that she’d like to see more continuing support for Indigenous people and the Indigenous community, citing days such as National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21st and Orange T-Shirt Day on September 30th.