By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

Invermere’s Four Points Books presents their September Speaker Series, featuring three leaders from the local Indigenous Peoples. 

“Leading into Truth & Reconciliation Day, we wanted to help our community learn more about the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share the Columbia Valley,” said bookstore owner Grant Hofer. 

The Speaker Series featured senior Métis representative Debra Fisher on Sept. 14. The next event in the series will be held Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m and includes representatives from Secwépemc and K’tunaxa nations Everyone is welcome to attend for free and can register in advance online. 

Fisher, who is the regional director of Métis Nation BC (Region 4) and past president of the Columbia Valley Métis Association (CVMA), discussed the definition of “Truth and Reconciliation.” 

One of the topics she shared was the connection between the government and citizens. 

“I would have to say that reconciliation is stronger from the people than it ever will be from the government. It’s action. It’s the action that will heal us. Not the words of the government,” Fisher said last Thursday. 

As a respected Métis elder and educator, Fisher’s past and current work also focuses on making the educational system better for the youth of today.

She mentioned there are a lot of students from her past that are being missed and not being recognized. 

Fisher had a job in a high school years ago and admitted that she knew some students who committed suicide. And through them, they are the reason why she’s here right now and advocating for many youth. 

“I would do absolutely everything in my life to make sure that no First Nations child would get left behind as their story is important, each and every one of them,” she added.  

Hofer said Fisher’s presentation was very special, noting, “she’s had a tremendous impact on our community . . . the stories she shared about her life, her family and her people were both engaging and insightful. It was honest and – at times – raw. Her openness was very well received.” 

On Sept. 28, two Indigenous councillors, Mark Thomas from Kenpesq’t (Shuswap Band of the Secwépemc people) and Lillian Rose from Akisqnuk (K’tunaxa) First Nation, will speak. 

Hofer said, “this has been a great experience so far and one we hope to repeat going forward. We are all fortunate to be living on the sacred and unceded territory of the Secwépemc and K’tunaxa Peoples, and the chosen home of the Métis. We look forward to learning more about their perspectives on our valley and truth and reconciliation.”

Hofer said the main goal of the speaker series is to learn more about the Indigenous Peoples of the Columbia Valley. 

“In addition to telling us about their people, we asked each speaker to address how truth and reconciliation relates to their members and provide thoughts about the future.”

The idea to host the speaker series came from Hofer and his wife, who have many other events in the works, featuring local experts in the valley. “Our community is full of amazing people doing great things, and we’d like to help them share their stories,” said Hofer.

 The book lover shared his thoughts on Truth and Reconciliation Day. 

“It means acknowledging that, as Canadians, we bear responsibility for righting the many mistakes made with our Indigenous Peoples . . . I certainly don’t know what the path to reconciliation looks like, but I believe it starts with compassion, understanding and authentic engagement.”