It was a beautiful start to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Williams Lake Friday, Sept. 30 as Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders and residents took part in a flag-raising ceremony outside city hall.
Chief Willie Sellars of the Williams Lake First Nation was on hand as Orange Shirt Society executive director Blair Cunningham opened the ceremony just after 8 a.m., welcoming Dave Archie who did a blessing in Secwepemc and English to honour “this good morning” and survivors.
Archie also introduced Angie Stump who said a prayer in Tsilhqot’in and English.
“Ancestors we pray for you, we pray for the lost children. We know today that the whole world knows that our children are found.”
As the group sang and drummed, an Every Child Matters flag was raised.
Chief Willie Sellars was in good spirits following the ceremony at city hall.
“We’re really changing the narrative with ceremonies like this, the raising of the orange flag,” said Sellars. “And the festivities that we have planned, we just wanted to welcome and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and everyone feels welcome because the more non-Indigenous individuals that we see celebrating the Indigenous population in this region, the more healing is going to take place. It’s about education, it’s about bringing people together, unification and think that’s exactly what the Orange Shirt Society has done with the festivities that have been planned.”
After the ceremony at city hall, the Williams Lake Rotary Club hosted a free pancake breakfast outside the Williams Lake Stampede Grandstands.
Hundreds of people came down to have breakfast and visit with one another at tables set up in the Let R’ Buck area.
At 11:30 a.m. the crowd took a seat inside the grandstands to watch the thrilling Indian Bareback Relay Race.
Following the first set of races and lunch, an official ceremony with speakers took place at 1 p.m. followed by more racing at 3:30 p.m.