Residential school survivor Lorna Standingready is comforted by a fellow survivor in the audience during the closing ceremony of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

15-day walk of action to go through Red Deer

A group of health-care professionals, members of the faith community, school division leaders and Indigenous members will begin a 15-day walk later this month.

The walk starts May 31 from Edmonton to Calgary and includes a stop in Red Deer and central Alberta communities such as Maskwacis, Lacombe, Ponoka, Bowden, Innisfail and Olds.

“It is important for non-Indigenous people to truly appreciate the privileges we have gathered because Indigenous nations allowed our ancestors to share this land,” said Scott MacDougall, a mental-health therapist at St. Therese-St. Paul Healthcare Centre in St. Paul, Alta., and a member of the board of directors of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA).

“It is important that we recognize that our well-being has come at a cost to the descendents of those original Treaty makers that welcomed our ancestors here. We must all now apply our minds coherently and cooperatively to building a different relational model.”

To that end HSAA, the union that represents about 26,000 health-care professionals, has tasked its Social Justice Committee to connect with other like-minded faith groups, citizens and Indigenous leaders to begin facilitating this dialogue for change.

“It’s not enough to talk about truth and reconciliation, it has become a social, economic and environmental imperative that we actually do something to create a solution,” he said.

Embarking on The Walk for Common Ground, the core group of 30 walkers will stop at communities every night, sleeping in churches, colleges and community centres.

The stop in Red Deer is at St. Leonard’s Anglican Church June 7. The group will leave the city June 8 onto their next stop in Innisfail.

The days will begin with smudging ceremonies and end with the presentation to host community members of the documentary Treaty Talk: Sharing the River of Life.

Following the film, audience will be asked to join a talking circle, as a means to reflect on the impact of the film and determine how each individual can contribute to a more meaningful change in in our relationship with First Nations.

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