More than 50 people marked Truth and Reconciliation Day early on Friday, as the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery hosted a screening of Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii.
The documentary film is about the Haida reconciling with the descendants of the scientists who robbed the islands’ graves a century ago. Following the film, there was a panel discussion about repatriation, featuring Indigenous advocate Lyle Keewatin Richards and the MAG’s exhibits co-ordinator Kim Verrier.
“How museums are doing things (in terms of repatriation) has really changed in the last so many years,” Verrier said.
“We are actually fortunate here because we had people participate in our museum (understand the importance of repatriation). There are things that were more standard to us earlier than they have been for other museums.”
Having conversations like this are “absolutely vital” in the search for Truth and Reconciliation, said Keewatin Richards.
“When you’re having a dialogue, you’ll see the lights come on (in people’s faces). Hopefully if we keep doing this often enough, things will start to sink in,” he said.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, originally and still colloquially known as Orange Shirt Day, is a holiday to recognize the legacy of the residential school system in Canada.
Keewatin noted a lot of people are moving towards the term “right relations,” as opposed to “reconciliation.”
“If we’re able to be at peace with each other, we will be in a good relation. That’s what a right relation looks like. That’s what we’re trying to move towards,” he said.
“To say reconciliation is to say there was a point of good relations in the past. I can’t think of one of those. But if we can work towards putting together a good relationship now, that’s a good thing.”
There will be more activities happening on Truth and Reconciliation Day this Saturday, when the Little Souls: The Journey On even will be presented by Shining Mountains Living Community Services, Métis Local 492, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society, Golden Circle Resource Centre and MAG.
There will be a quilt ceremony featuring the Little Souls at 11:15 a.m., which will be followed by Zack Willier performing traditional Métis music.
Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii will be screened again from 1-3:30 p.m. Red Deerians will then get a final chance to tour the museum exhibit Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing in the Northwest from 3:30 to 4 p.m.