By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative

On September 30, the Invermere Public Library hosted three events for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. These events include a story reading, language workshop, and book discussion. 

“It’s great to see that so many people in the community make an effort to learn about what Truth and Reconciliation Day means and how we can work towards practising reconciliation,” said Blair McFarlane, the library’s Community Outreach Programmer. 

The first event in the morning was story reading time when she read the stories of Phyllis Webstad’s Orange Shirt Story (the version for younger audiences), ci katam, a Ktunaxa version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? created by the ?Akisq’nuk First Nation, and You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith. 

“We had a really good discussion about what happened to kids at residential schools and why it’s a terrible thing. We talked about what makes us feel safe and loved. The kids said that being with their families and parents makes them feel safe. They mentioned that teachers are safe people in their lives too. We discussed how the students who attended Residential Schools did not get that safety or care from their teachers. Often the exact opposite,” she explained. 

McFarlane said there were more than 70 people in attendance, including approximately 40 children. In the end, they created an Every Child Matters painting with thumbprint hearts. This will be on display at the library. 

In the second event, a workshop on Secwepemctsin language took place. The library connected with Robyn and Tisha Tardif, who are members of the Kenpesq’t (Shuswap) Band who completed the Stselxméms r Secwepemc (Secwépemc Knowledge Institute course).

They taught people the numbers one to five, animal names, and plant names in their language. They also talked about their experiences learning the language. 

McFarlane facilitated the last event, a book discussion on Bob Joseph’s 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act. 

“It was great to see so many people show up. There are many settler Canadians, and descendants of settlers, in our community who are taking the time to learn about the atrocities and ongoing effects of the Residential School system.” 

McFarlane said the library plans to have similar events for Truth and Reconciliation Day in the future, noting that reconciliation is not a one-day event, but a year-round, continuous effort.