Tomorrow, September 30th, marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

It’s a day to remember the children who never came home from residential schools, and acknowledge the ongoing trauma that Indigenous communities continue to face.

In Dawson Creek, the Nawican Bergeron Youth and Cultural Centre will be holding a candlelit vigil tonight at 8pm. Everyone is invited to come honour residential school victims, survivors, and their families.

Jannah Kohlman-Easingwood, the Centre’s executive director, says the acknowledgement of the harms done is crucial. It’s the first step toward reconciliation.

She says it’s also a good opportunity for people to reflect on their privilege, and develop a better understanding of what children at residential schools went through.

“Privilege is not having something extra given to you, it’s the removal of the barriers,” says Kohlman-Easingwood. “It’s asking yourself those questions: did you ever have to worry about where clean drinking water was coming from? Did you ever have to worry about sleeping through the night without being sexually abused? Did you every have to worry about having recurring nightmares about being sexually abused? Did you ever have to worry about eating mouldy bread, or survive on oatmeal that you and your siblings had to share for the week? If you didn’t have to worry about those things, then you grew up privileged.”

Kohlman-Easingwood says it’s important to continue having these conversations all year long, especially since the trauma from the schools continues for Indigenous people to this day.

“We want to have people reflecting on these things, and how they can participate in the reconciliation part of things now,” she says. “But it’s really about remembering that this is a reality for people every single day of the year, not just on September 30th.

Truth and Reconciliation events are happening elsewhere in the Peace Region as well.

In Fort St. John, a walk to acknowledge victims and survivors will begin from Centennial Park. The event starts Friday at 11am with an opening prayer and drumming session. A barbecue will also be held after the walk.

In Chetwynd, the Tansi Friendship Centre Society is holding a community lunch at noon.

A whole day of events is planned in Fort Nelson. A community breakfast will be held at the Fort Hotel beginning at 9am. An awareness walk will begin at 11:30, starting from the corner of 42nd Street and 50th Avenue North. After that, a movie with guest speakers will take place at 1pm at the Phoenix Theatre.

Resources are available for anyone who has been affected by residential schools:

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-800-925-4419

Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society: 1-800-721-0066

First Nations Health Authority Indian Residential Schools Society: 1-877-477-0775