Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo gives the opening address at the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Gathering conference in Williams Lake.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo gives the opening address at the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Gathering conference in Williams Lake.

VIDEO/STORY: National Chief Atleo delivers message of hope

The moment of hope and incredible potential is emerging said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo.

The moment of hope and incredible potential is emerging said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo in Williams Lake Friday.

Atleo was giving the opening address on day two of Remembering, Recovering and Reconciling, the Truth and Reconciliation Statement Gathering, in Williams Lake that began May 16.

“I feel hope for the future of our people,” Atleo said. “It’s an honour that you’ve come together in unity from different nations. It’s a powerful statement. You’ve come together to support the journey of the survivors, to mark and commemorate what has occurred, as well as to celebrate the moments that are to come.”

It’s hopeful that mayors and directors from the Cariboo Regional District, School District #27, Thompson Rivers University, the RCMP, and church leaders were also present, Atleo said.

“I remember when I was on a ride to the St. Joseph’s Mission site in 2007. I remember that moment, we were on horseback, and we were riding to the mission.”

There was a tightness in his stomach that comes with emotions and he said he was sure survivors must have felt that when they went to the monument unveiling at the site on May 16.

“I want to say that we’re here with you. That we recognize you’re honouring students who didn’t make it. That their memory is important and that the work continues of honouring the ancestors.”

When he joined the group in 2007 on horses and wagon, he realized the leaders, such as Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William who had invited him, were saying “it was a dreadful journey at one time.”

“You’ve transferred that now into a journey for healing to be out there together. That’s the work that’s happening here. That courageous manner in which our people have always been able to face challenges and come face to face with an institution that wreaked havoc on you and your lives, on your families and communities.”

Quoting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology statement in 2008, Atleo said decisions were taken that should have never been taken, and must never be taken again.

“I will never forget that moment because I got to hold the hand of my late granny Elsie Robinson, my Aunty Louise’s late mom, who passed away four years ago.”

Elsie, 87, took Atleo’s hand and said: “They’re just beginning to see us grandson. You see, even in a moment, there was a measure of justice that my late granny was feeling. But I think more importantly, as grandmothers want to do, to express that and encourage her grandson to find the healing potential.”

His granny wanted him to realize that through all the difficulties she wanted to encourage her grandson that Canada was staring to see Aboriginal people and that was a good thing.

“She said I’m content with my life. I’m content and happy and proud of my family. To people who experienced the residential school like my granny and my aunty, I hold my hands up in appreciation for you bearing the full responsibility and blunt of the biggest challenge our people have faced.”

Many residential school survivors have provided leadership, he added.

“I think about the courage it has taken for so many of our people to speak up, to write their stories.”

They have worked with the RCMP to anchor and support a safe framework for healing, Atleo added.

“The intergenerational traumas and cycles that are beginning to be broken by the exciting work being done. We have young people here among us who are participating, learning and understanding this legacy that we collectively inherited.”

“There are many in this region that have had the courage to hold perpetrators accountable, as well as through the courts. They not only held them accountable before the courts, but they facilitated healing circles.”

Healing circles bring better results, that many years of courts and lenient sentences, Atleo said.

“You can stand proud to have reconciled your past to create healthy families and communities. As a 46 year old, I must express and commend those of you celebrating 25 to 35 years sobriety. Thank you,” he said to a huge applause.

“Your strength has helped move thousands across the country to face their own experiences in residential school.”

Leadership in the Cariboo-Chilcotin provided a pathway for healing and reconciliation, he reminded.

“I want to recognize the Cariboo Tribal Council facilitating important research on Indian Residential Schools on your families and communities. This has charted a path to recovery. They also held the first national conference on Indian Residential Schools in 1991. We recognize this leadership, celebrate and appreciate this leadership.”

“It was done at a time when nobody wanted to talk about it. It was a big taboo. Thank you for breaking that.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

An aerial photograph captures snowmobile tracks in the Cameron Ridge area earlier this year, which is closed to snowmobilers. The closures are in place to protect sensitive caribou herds. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Snowmobilers fined for operating in closed caribou habitat near Likely, B.C.

The investigation revealed they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read