31 Mar Actions and Words
We were honoured to have Arthur Bear Chief (author of My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell) join us to share a bit about his life and why he chose to write his story.
Elder Gilman Cardinal began the evening with a prayer. He told the crowd of over a hundred people: “Tonight is about the healing that needs to happen.” Then, Roger Jevne, deputy city manager, offered words on behalf of the City of Edmonton.
The evening was centered on a panel discussion moderated by Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of the Downie-Wenjack Fund. The panelists were Arthur Bear Chief, Pamela Holway, senior editor at Athabasca University Press, and Steven Cooper, a lawyer who was part of the committee that helped negotiate the national residential schools settlement.
The discussion focused on what the obstacles are to reconciliation, what we’ve seen happening so far, and what gives us hope for reconciliation. We collected some quotes from the evening to give you a sense of what was discussed. And while they don’t capture the whole conversation, they represent the themes and reflections of the evening.
“I’m talking for all these survivors that are gone. Their spirit is with me and I’m talking for them.” –Arthur Bear Chief
“I was never educated when I went to residential school. I worked a half day and I was praying all the time. But praying didn’t help me.” –Arthur Bear Chief
“The biggest hurdle [to reconciliation] is my generation.” –Steven Cooper
“I don’t see much reconciliation but I have hope that one day we will achieve our goals and become our own nation.” –Arthur Bear Chief
“It’s the children who will really move us forward.” –Charlene Bearhead
“There’s more consciousness, but it needs to translate into action. We are leaving a lot of work for the next generation.” –Pamela Holway
“If we wait for the 94 calls to action to be answered by the ‘authority’ [government] we are going to be waiting a long time.” –Charlene Bearhead
“Reconciliation isn’t going to happen until white people are willing to share power, give land back and restore human dignity.” –Pamela Holway
Terry Lusty closed the evening with a poem.
To continue the conversation, join the RISE book club at http://risebookclub.ca/ and use #RISEbookclub on social media to connect with other readers.