Walk through Northern Saskatchewan meant to heal residential school trauma
- Jessica Iron Joseph | July 18, 2016
Almost 100 people walked from Prince Albert to Stanley Mission as a way to heal from the traumatic effects of residential schools and to remember loved ones who were not as fortunate to survive.
The walk was organized by several people. Sallie McLeod, Nancy Mirasty and Tom Roberts felt that it was time to let go of past hurts and move forward with their lives by having a commemorative walk.
“My friend Nancy said we should be doing something to leave that part of our lives in the past and go forward and maybe we should walk home,” said McLeod.
“We started talking about it and put this idea together. It took awhile but it was kind of like wishful thinking way back when. Today we made it a reality. A lot of people came out from different communities.”
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Not everyone walked the entire journey to Stanley Mission, but everyone who registered walked to the John Diefenbaker bridge, and some continued on to the Nesbitt Campground just outside of the city. It was hot out, and the heat added another element to an already challenging day.
“The walk across the bridge was very emotional for a lot of us because we each carried a stone that we picked up outside the Alan Bird Memorial Center,” said McLeod. “The stone was to signify somebody who’s not there with us anymore or is unable to be there, and as we crossed that bridge, we dropped the stone into the water for them.”
“A lot of the other survivors had put little names on the rocks in memory of their loved ones that are no longer with them. So I think that part, crossing the bridge, for them was very emotional, and letting go of some anger. I’m not quite sure how else to say it because personally speaking, I still have my siblings with me, and three of them walked with me today,” said McLeod.
“The walk was very uplifting. I was amazed by all the people that came out to support and walk with us.”
Although the walk was successful, McLeod does not anticipate that this will be an annual event. Given the magnitude of planning, with the purpose of moving forward, this was most likely a one-time event.
McLeod hopes that this walk inspires others to leave the past in the past, and move forward toward a brighter future. “Hopefully our children will learn from this and go forward, too.”