As an outward sign toward truth and reconciliation Williams Lake city council has approved an orange banner project proposed by the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council.
A large orange banner with the words “Every Child Matters” and the number “215” went up across Oliver Street on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21.
In the coming weeks orange banners will be installed on lampposts in the downtown core, with the city providing $7,500 in-kind support for the hanging of them.
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council communications manager Eric Sannes told council Tuesday evening the city’s support is a step forward for everyone.
It is important for people in the region to face residential school history and the revelation of unmarked graves as well as murdered and missing Indigenous women, Sannes said, noting once COVID-19 restrictions are removed a large gathering may be planned.
Mayor Walt Cobb said he’d even like to see the banners spread out throughout the town to heighten awareness and that he hoped by Sept. 30 when the country marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation the city will come up with other initiatives.
At the same time, he reiterated what Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars told him when he visited the sacred fire that was burning at Sugar Cane in the days following the announcement of the 215 children buried at the former Kamloops residential school site.
“The comment to us was ‘just assist and ask the questions, but don’t try and tell us what to do.’ Let them do what they want to do and we will participate,” Cobb said. “It is their issue and it is important to all of us. We are prepared to assist them where we can when they come forward with something.”
Becoming better listeners will go a long way in the coming days, months and years.
And, any added orange on our private and community properties is a silent, yet visible sign of solidarity.