By Miranda Leybourne
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Riverbank centre gearing up for Truth and Reconciliation Week
The general manager of the Riverbank Discovery Centre says he’s thrilled that the non-profit facility is the venue for Brandon’s Truth and Reconciliation Week again this year.
The majority of the week’s events, which run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, will take place at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
“It’s going to be fantastic. Last year was a great week, and this year is going to be even more special,” James Montgomery said.
Most of the events will be outside the Riverbank’s information centre, including activities at the east picnic shelter, the stage and across the grounds.
Highlights include a sunrise ceremony with Elder Frank Tacan on Sept. 27 at 7 a.m., followed by the lighting of the sacred fire, teepee teachings later that afternoon, and a sacred fire teaching at 6:30 p.m.
On Sept. 28, an all-day gathering called “Creating a New Legacy” will be held by the Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellness Committee.
On Sept. 29, the Brandon School Division will bus students to the Riverbank in the morning and afternoon to take part in teachings that the public are also welcome to attend. A teaching on the meaning of Truth and Reconciliation will wrap up the day’s events at 6:30 p.m.
In the morning of Sept. 30, an Orange Shirt Day teaching will be followed by an all-nations sharing circle. At 1 p.m. that day, the Orange Shirt Day Walk to the site of the former Brandon residential school in the RM of Cornwallis, five kilometres from Brandon, will take place. A feast will be held at the teepees at 6 p.m., and two hours later there will be a teaching and an all-nations sharing circle.
Oct. 1 begins with a blanket exercise and a teaching on traditional foods and wellness by Eugene Ross. At 1 p.m., a reconciliation panel featuring local institutions and organizations will commence, focusing on what each is doing to advance reconciliation. A “pulling together” activity will follow, where people from the Indigenous community and public services will paddle the Assiniboine River. A “healing by the river” ceremony will follow at 5 p.m.
Oct. 2 will see more teachings and exercises, and the week will wrap up with closing ceremonies at 4 p.m., followed by a feast.
Thanks to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), located at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, there is also a display about residential schools in the Riverbank centre’s main building.
The exhibit was loaned to the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’
Council (BUAPC) to be put on display before and during Truth and Reconciliation Week 2022.
The multi-panel indoor display will enhance this year’s Truth and Reconciliation Week activities, said Michele LeTourneau, BUAPC’s community co-ordinator, adding that the display features a detailed history of **>residential<** schools.
“The panels explain so much that maybe wouldn’t get captured in one teaching, so this is a great way for people who are not aware of the history,” LeTourneau said. “It’s visual, it’s poignant.”
The display includes quotes from residential school survivors to give a sense of what truth and reconciliation is all about, and its importance to society today.
The display brings the entirety of the Riverbank Discovery Centre into the fold of Truth and Reconciliation Week, allowing more people to learn about the history of Indigenous people, Montgomery said.
“It’s great to have the display visible for visitors who are inside ? and for travellers, and just the general public to learn more.”
The display will be up until Oct. 4.
Miranda Leybourne is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for
BRANDON SUN. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.