The community of Wetaskiwin, led by Immanuel Anglican Church and the Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum, came together on September 30, for the annual Orange Shirt Day walk to remember the children who were sent to Residential Schools; to remember those who died, and those who returned home with so many losses. This year’s walk came with extra solemnity as all in attendance held the news of the unmarked graves in their hearts.
The walk, which was held on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, took us from the museum to the Peace Cairn. This cairn was built to honour the treaty made between the Siskikawa (Blackfoot) and Nehiyawak (Cree) peoples. Dr. Karen Aberle. executive director of the museum shared how the cairn was built. For the 60th Anniversary of Confederation the community of Wetaskiwin who knew the story of the peace treaty decided to ask children to walk to the Peace Hills to collect the stones that make up the cairn. First Nation elders prayed over the land where the cairn was built. It is a place of healing for all in the community.
The Rev. Hugh Matheson, rector of Immanuel, prayed for the community gathered to remember the children who were taken and those who did not return to their homes. People in attendance found joy in the sound of children playing around the cairn. The community that gathers has grown each year and involves many generations and people living in the area. The Immanuel Reconciliation Team is already looking ahead to next year’s walk.