Day Two: IRS TRC National Gathering

June 18, 2010

Gus Higheagle (Dakota) riding into Oodena Circle at the Forks in Winnipeg.

Faced with tornado warnings and heavy rain, the second day of the IRS TRC national gathering pushed forward. Unfortunately, because of the weather, a few events had to be cancelled or postponed, resulting in some confusion.

Despite these issues, the ceremony welcoming the Unity Riders into the Oodena Circle went forward. The Unity Ride began in Virden, Manitoba last Friday and ended on Thursday in Winnipeg. It was made in honour of residential school survivors and to show unity between the First Nations in the prairies.

Like many aspects of the events at the IRS TRC’s first national gathering, the ceremony welcoming the riders included its fair share of contradictions. As some of the riders were presented with blankets in commemoration of their ride, a residential school survivor in the audience shouted his  displeasure at being unable to give his testimony that day. The volume of people wanting to share in combination with poor weather has made it difficult for some to give their testimonies, particularly those that had hoped to share their experiences publicly as opposed to through one of the private means (through private statement giving or in writing.) Even those offering blessings at the IRS TRC’s events, including Elder Albert Taylor who gave the blessing for the Unity Riders, mentioned their concerns regarding the promises and implications of the commission.

These tensions will undoubtedly continue through the next few days of the event, and throughout the reconciliation process in general. They are reminders that processes of reconciliation are laden with contradictions and discomfort. And I would like to think that these tensions reveal not only the difficulties of this process, but the opportunities as well.

IRS TRC Commissioner Wilton Littlechild on horseback with the Unity Riders

Some local coverage of the Unity Ride: the Brandon Sun and the Winnipeg Sun.

One Response to “Day Two: IRS TRC National Gathering”

  1. Gail Says:

    Hi Naomi,

    Great photos. Report what you can. This story is getting drowned out in the Toronto mainstream.


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