September 17th, 2013, Pulling Together Canoe Families were invited and participated in the Reconciliation Canada All Nation Gathering. A tremendous amount of work to organize seats, skippers and equipment was managed by our President Jolene Andrew to ensure both PTC Society Canoes were filled with representatives from Pulling Together and Survivors from Residential Schools and Elders.
On Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 a very special event took place in Vancouver’s False Creek. Over 60 canoes participated in an historic canoe gathering. They were there to open Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation – Vancouver 2013.
One of the participants, Ed Hill, provides his recollection of this momentous day.
PULLING TOGETHER was there to participate. Both of our canoes proudly carried our usual crews of a cross section of society to mark the occasion. Most importantly, we carried survivors of the Residential School system with us. So too, many PULLING TOGETHER members were represented in many of the other canoes in the flotilla. Indeed, some of our membership are survivors themselves.
It was an event of mixed emotions. There was joy and exhilaration in those canoes, but there were also tears and sadness. This event is about remembering, acknowledging and sharing. PULLING TOGETHER has been doing the work of reconciliation since 2001 in our own small way, but this event was a monumental, once in a lifetime occasion for all who were there.
The next day as PULLING TOGETHER participants from over the years walked around the Forum and Agrodome at the PNE grounds we were a part of a crowd of thousands. It was a very emotional time for all of us. We recognized faces and friends in that huge crowd and they recognized us. Our good work of well over 10 years manifested itself in heartfelt hugs, smiles, shared stories and laughter.
This wasn’t our first experience in learning and knowing of the pain of the Residential School system. We’d all heard the stories throughout our journeys over the years. Knowing what we know, we were here to support and share with our friends particularly as we proudly walked in the rains on that final day of the event through the streets of Vancouver. I’m sure all PULLING TOGETHER participants who witnessed any part of the Truth and Reconciliation events were glad to be a part of it. However, we all know this is just a beginning. Canada’s work at healing, and the work of PULLING TOGETHER have just begun.
As more pictures and stories follow this incredible event, links and photos will be added.
Thank you to all those came and support this important initiative.
Pulling Together Canoe Society