The second annual Turtle Island Healing Walk is scheduled for Friday morning in central London, Ontario. – London |

Thousands of people are expected to descend on downtown London, Ontario on Friday morning for the second annual Turtle Island Healing Walk to honor the survivors of Canada’s residential school system and the thousands of indigenous children they never made it home.

“This day is a day of honor. This walk is a walk to heal. And our future is a future of hope. We may not know their names, but together we lift them up. On July 1st, we walked for them”, a post on the walk Facebook page state

Participants will begin gathering in Victoria Park for a ceremony at 9:15 am, with the walk starting about an hour later, said walk director Elyssa Rose, whose spiritual name is Little Thunder Woman.

“We will start around 9:15 in the morning with the opening prayer. We’ll have a welcome around 9:30, and then we’ll have big bosses, some area bosses, as well as youth councils and our jingle-clad dancers sharing the stage and some words,” said Rose, who also serves as anti-coordinator. of human trafficking at Atlohsa Family Healing Services.

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Those gathered will begin the walk around 10:15 am, moving north on Richmond Street with a silent memorial to honor those who never made it home, Rose said.

“In Richmond and Oxford, we’ll have our jingle-clad dancers taking over, our hand drummers leading that, and then we’ll have the orange smoke release again this year, which will represent the honor of sending survivors home and recognizing to survivors in our community. Rose said.

The walk will then continue east on Oxford Street, south on Colborne Street, and then west on Dufferin Avenue. The route is shorter than the three-mile route the walk took in 2021, a change Rose says was made to better accommodate the elderly and people with disabilities.

The first Turtle Island Healing Walk was held last summer in response to the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC, and other discoveries at former residential schools in other provinces across the country.

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“Knowing the truth is not new for indigenous peoples, but coming out in the form that it is is extremely heavy, and more and more learning about what is happening. A year has passed, but a year is not a long time. It’s not a long time at all,” Rose said.

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Ontario has said it believes there are likely more unmarked burial sites in the province than the 12 identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which documented the abuse suffered by indigenous children in residential schools and the deaths of more than 4,000 children. An untold number of children are still missing.

The province has earmarked millions for investigations of residential school burial sites, and earlier this month the federal government appointed an independent special interlocutor to work with Canada’s indigenous communities to put together a new legal framework to ensure the proper treatment and protection of residential school burial sites.

Searches began late last year looking for unmarked graves at two former residential schools in the London region: the Mount Elgin Residential School in Muncey and the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford. Mohawk will become a historic site and educational resource with the help of a fundraising campaign Organized by the Woodland Cultural Center.

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Since the first Turtle Island Healing Walk took place last year, a walk in which at least 10,000 people participated, Rose says she has constantly heard from others in the community about the positive impact of the walk and the hope and the support it brought.

“More and more people were coming up and asking if the walk was going to be repeated. ‘Can we create the space again? Because we need that space,’” Rose said.

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“The numbers continue to rise, the truth is still showing. But we also face multiple problems. So we need a space where it can hold hope, love, kindness, honesty, but still find a balance together where we can walk together in that way, on a path to reconciliation,” he added.

“Not everyone can celebrate what Canada Day represents for many. Not everyone can identify with that. So this space is for our families, our communities and all the allies and members of the community who want to be with us on this day.”

— with archives from The Canadian Press and Aaron D’Andrea of ​​Global News

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

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