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‘Wear your shirt throughout the year’: Winnipeg marks third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

A sea of orange flowed through downtown Winnipeg Saturday for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

People poured into Oodena Circle at The Forks to kick off the third annual Wa-Say Healing Centre Orange Shirt Day Survivors walk.

Derek Nepinak, chief of Minegoziibe Anishinabe, told the crowd Indigenous people will reclaim space.

“Sometimes when we’re reclaiming space, that’s uncomfortable for some people,” Nepinak said. “But you know what, nobody said that truth and reconciliation was going to be an easy path.”

That path isn’t being walked alone as thousands joined in, some volunteering to help grow the sea of orange. Sekwun Carter was one of many people handing out orange shirts, hoping they will go a long way.

“Dont just tuck your shirt away inside of a closet and forget about it,” Carter said. “Wear your shirt throughout the year. It matters.” 

Orange shirts, ribbon skirts, and regalia were on full display as thousands marched through downtown Winnipeg.

Others – like husband and wife duo Vern and Tricia Dano – volunteered to help bring up the rear of the walk with a group of other motorcyclists.

“I do have a lot of emotions, mixed emotions,” Vern said. “I’m feeling jubilant that we’re coming together in a safe way, yet there are so many things that have not been addressed.” 

He said that includes equity, less racism, and educating people on what being Indigenous means.

Indigenous pride was front and centre at the end of the walk as supporters gathered for a pow wow at Canada Life Centre.

Wa-Say’s executive director, Wayne Mason Sr., spoke about their mission.

“It’s all about healing,” Mason said. “Helping our people. Especially the residential school survivors, day school survivors, sixties scoop.”

 Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick told participants on the day she also thinks of parents who were separated from their children.

“Its a day of remembrance for our people,” Merrick said. “For the residential school survivors. For the children that never made it home.”

For Tricia Dano – the day is a call to be seen and heard more than once a year.

“We’re just invisible. So really there has to be better representation.” 

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