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Walk through the night for survivors of residential schools

One man's quest to walk from Sooke to Victoria in honour of his mother and aunties

By Zoë Ducklow
June 30, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Walk through the night for survivors of residential schools

One man's quest to walk from Sooke to Victoria in honour of his mother and aunties

By Zoë Ducklow
Jun 30, 2022
Sasha Perron performing at the National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2022. Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily
Sasha Perron performing at the National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2022. Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Walk through the night for survivors of residential schools

One man's quest to walk from Sooke to Victoria in honour of his mother and aunties

By Zoë Ducklow
June 30, 2022
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Walk through the night for survivors of residential schools
Sasha Perron performing at the National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2022. Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily

Just over a year ago the Tk'emlúps First Nation announced they had located the remains of 215 children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The news resounded across Canada, forcing many non-Indigenous people to confront the awful truth of what happened in residential schools. Survivors have lived with that truth, some silently, for decades. When it flashed into the news cycle, for many it ripped open wounds of grief and trauma.

As the Every Child Matters movement has fallen out of the daily news cycle, the heaviness remains, and the healing continues—as does the work to locate children who died at other residential schools. Underground scans have continued at former residential school sites in BC, locating hundreds of unmarked graves.

Sasha Perron, a Kwakwaka'wakw man who lives in Langford, wants residential school survivors to know that he’s still listening.

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“I just want to make it so that they know that I’m supporting them, and that if they do decide to tell their stories, we’ll believe them, and we’re here for them,” he said. He’s talking about his own mother and aunties, all residential school survivors who don’t talk about it much, but also to survivors in that generation who have carried the grief for so long.

“I want to make sure that our generation is represented in doing the work, so [survivors] can take some of that weight off their shoulders.”

Last year Perron was moved to run 216 kilometers over just a couple of weeks, ending at the legislature on Canada Day for a memorial ceremony honouring the survivors and the children who didn’t make it home. This year, he’ll walk for 21.5 hours from Sooke to Victoria, and end with a similar ceremony.

Beginning at the home of a couple who both survived residential school, and ending with a public ceremony and memorial, Perron’s walk through the night is a thank you to the ancestors for being so strong. And, it’s a message to survivors that they’re not alone.

“The next generation, we’ve heard you, we’ve learned, we’ve got your strength and your messages.”

He’ll start walking mid morning on July 1, and carry on until the morning of July 2, ending at Fisherman’s Wharf. He’s inviting the public to join him there at 10am, July 2, to walk the final kilometre to the legislature, where representatives from Nuu-chah-nulth, Lekwungen, and Kwakwaka'wakw nations will hold a memorial ceremony. (Those are the three Indigenous language groups on the Island; within each are several distinct nations, such as Songhees and Esquimalt within Lekwungen.)

The stuffed animals and shoes that had been placed as a memorial on the steps of the legislature were cleaned and stored over the winter, and will be put back for the ceremony.

This walk is a public statement of support, but Perron has been doing much more behind the scenes to take on the work. Weekly at the Mungo Martin Bighouse in downtown Victoria, for example, Perron and other Kwakwaka'wakw drummers, dancers, and singers have been meeting to practice their songs, to share their culture with Kwakwaka'wakw people who live in Greater Victoria. He’s started a foundation—Pathway Nations—and is working to keep sharing his culture, steward the land, and promote healthy living, three goals that have become inseparable for Perron in the last year.

Like last year, Perron is also raising money for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. For those who are compelled, you’re invited to join Perron for 10km segments along the way from Sooke to Victoria. Details on his Facebook page.

Meet at 10am, July 2 at Fisherman’s Wharf. Ceremony starts at 11.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Zoë Ducklow
Reporter, The Westshore

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