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In September of 2021, approximately 200 people showed up at 10 AM at the Penticton Peach for an impromptu “Walk for the Children” to commemorate Canada’s first-ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Last year, noticeably more than that showed up at the Peach for the 2022 iteration of the walk, organized by the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
Will the numbers grow again for the 2023 Walk? We’ll know tomorrow, Sept. 30th, when it kicks off at 10 AM.
But one thing is certain. This year the start line has moved.
In 2023, the Walk for the Children won’t go anywhere near the Peach. Instead, it’ll start a couple kilometers south in the parking lot of the Penticton Safeway.
And for good reason. The Walk, as always, will end at the poignant Syilx Indian Residential School Monument near the Penticton Hatchery on En'owkin Trail on the PIB reservation. And the distance from the Peach to that end point is five kilometers -- a bit much for many of the past participants. So it's been shortened.
“It’s because the elders who walked last year have requested a bit of a shorter walk,” said ONA communications lead Tara Montgomery. “They want to do the entire walk but are unable to do the five kilometers. So it was a bit of a compromise so they can participate the whole way.”
There’ll be lunch too. It’ll be a meal of beef noodle vegetable soup and fried bread, cooked up by the PIB’s Connor Baptiste, sponsored by Okanagan Nation Transition Emergency House and served at the finish line.
There’ll be enough for 200 people, though priority, understandably, will be given to residential school survivors, Syilx elders and ONA members.
Potential participants are encouraged to wear orange shirts, though it’s not mandatory.
But the Walk for the Children isn’t the only National Day of Truth and Reconciliation event scheduled for Penticton. Also on the menu are two special showings of the acclaimed 2022 Canadian-made film Bones of Crows.
The movie, a psychological thriller written, produced and directed by Canadian Metis Marie Clements, tells the life story of Cree matriarch Aline Spears, highlighting her experiences at residential school and the lasting impact those experiences had on her and her family.
Several members of the Penticton Indian Band are featured in Bones of Crows, including Summer Testawich, who plays a young Aline.
Admission is free to both showings, at 3 PM and 6 PM at Cleland Theatre at 325 Power St.
Refreshments will be provided by Okanagan Nation Transition Emergency House. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
The showings are a joint effort between the Penticton Indian Band, the Ooknakane Friendship Centre, the South Okanagan Similkameen Metis Association and the City of Penticton.