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Tag: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Talia Young, an Indigenous girl wearing an orange "every child matters" shirt sings and drums.

Shootin’ the Breeze – October 4, 2023

Song of healing

Talia Young performs a hand-drum song during a smudge and blessing event Friday at Pincher Creek United Church. The ceremony was conducted by elder Peter Strikes With A Gun, a former Piikani Nation chief. 


Text: Communities coming together in a spirit of reconciliation and hope because every child matters. Orange t-shirt marking Orange Shirt Day.

Local Truth and Reconciliation commemorations

In Canada, Sept. 30 is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day honouring Indigenous children who experienced the horrors of residential schools, and the families affected.

Communities and organizations host activities across the country to commemorate this painful history and spread awareness of the lasting impacts still endured by survivors and their families to this day.

Throughout the southwestern Alberta region, many groups are hosting events over the next few days in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Piikani Child and Family Services

For starters, Piikani Child and Family Services is hosting a Day of Truth and Reconciliation event at Piikani Travel Centre on Friday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. 

The group will unveil a new billboard sign for Piikani Child and Family Services, while also honouring Every Child Matters and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature a blessing, speakers, elders and a free lunch. Everyone is welcome.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Peigan Ponokamiitatopii

A few hours later, Peigan Ponokamiitatopii, an equine-assisted learning organization, is hosting a Truth and Reconciliation youth event from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fort Macleod ag building. 

Youth are invited to sign up for an afternoon of learning all about Blackfoot culture, language, games, food and more.

“My goal with this event is to invite any youth to come and participate, especially non-native youth, to see what we’re all about,” says Julia Lowe, owner of Peigan Ponokamiitatopii.

“The whole idea is to get people together to learn about the Blackfoot ways.”

To sign up for this free event, call or text Julia at 403-339-4048.


Ad for Blinds and More in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass


Smudging and blessing with Peter Strikes With A Gun

Later the same evening, Pincher Creek United Church will host a smudge and blessing with elder Peter Strikes with a Gun, beginning at 5 p.m. in its parking lot. 

Smudging is a cultural ceremony practised by many Indigenous peoples in Canada, typically involving prayer and the burning of sacred medicines. 

This, like many other Indigenous traditions, was repressed and frowned upon within residential schools, so it is important to embrace this long-standing practice in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Swing by the church to learn from the words of this Piikani elder, and stick around afterwards for fry bread, refreshments and more.

Calling My Spirit Back

Community members are also welcome to join the English family from Oct. 2 to 4 for their sixth annual Calling My Spirit Back healing walk for justice and awareness for the lives in Treaty 7 and globally.

The walk will begin with a pipe ceremony at the English estate in Brocket at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, before leaving for a nearly 200-kilometre walk to Calgary. The walk concludes at Olympic Plaza, where the group will join the 20th Sisters in Spirit Vigil.

For details, contact Natawowowkii (Stephanie) English at


Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Kairos Blanket Exercise

Lastly, Pincher Creek United Church is hosting a Kairos Blanket Exercise with Rev. Tony Snow, a United Church minister and member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.

The Blanket Exercise was developed by elders and keepers of knowledge to help illustrate the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canadian history. Everyone is welcome to learn about Indigenous experiences of colonization.

Registration is requested for the exercise. To register, email or call 403-627-3734.

Take time to reflect

These are just a few of the local events, so be sure to keep an eye out for additional activities geared toward the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Every Child Matters movement. 

If you can’t make it to any of the events, be sure to take a moment on Sept. 30 to learn more about the history of residential schools and reflect upon it. This online link provides information:


Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek


Related story: Dave Friesen’s relentless pursuit of justice at Lower Post IRS

Pincher Creek observes first National Truth and Reconciliation Day

Crowshoe, a councillor for Piikani First Nation, addressed Pincher Creek residents outside the Napi Friendship Centre on National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

He told the story of his own family and the struggles they face living in the shadow of trauma, and discussed how Canada can work toward improving its relationship with Indigenous people.

As the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in history, Sept. 30 was a memorable moment for Canadians. People across the country gathered together to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities.

“All Canadians need to observe or at least acknowledge the day,” Crowshoe said in an interview after the event. “If everybody wore an orange shirt today, it would be the start.”

The orange shirt was made an official symbol in honour of Phyllis Webstad, a First Nations woman whose treasured orange shirt, originally given to her by her grandmother, was confiscated when she arrived as a child at residential school.

An official date of observance was first suggested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, No. 80 of its 94 calls to action, and although this is a step in the right direction, Crowshoe said there’s still more work to be had.


Gilbert Kylo Provost holds a flag
Gilbert Kylo Provost checks out the display created by Napi Friendship Centre in Pincher Creek. Photo by Teri Harrison

“Reconciliation, it’s a healing process,” he explained.

“You need to reconcile for the wrongs that you have done. There needs to be some sort of compensation in saying, ‘OK, we’re taking ownership of what we’ve done.’ ”

He said Piikani Nation is using ground-penetrating radar to search for unmarked graves on its land. There were four residential schools in the area and he said that if remains are discovered it would help shed light on a dark period of history.

Crowshoe was joined by Coun. Scott Korbett at the event. The two have been friends for more than 20 years and Korbett said he attended to show moral support.

“This is a sad time for me,” said Korbett after the event. “I find this disturbing…. It’s very clear we need to have better communication regularly, and intentional conversations.”

“It is our responsibility to let Piikani Nation lead us through how to reconcile, how to respect, what is going to be the direction,” he added. “And it is up to us to step back and honour their traditions and accept their culture.”

Four blocks east of Napi Friendship Centre, a separate reconciliation event took place at Pincher Creek United Church, which has also collaborated with Indigenous groups in the past.

“We strongly believe we cannot live without our community. We learn from each other no matter our background, culture or skin colour,” said Rev. Hyun Heo in an interview.

Peter Strikes With a Gun spoke to the congregation and his family performed an honour song.


Peter Strikes With a Gun speaks at an event
Peter Strikes With a Gun grew up on Piikani First Nation and he is a survivor of the residential school system. He told his story at a ceremony at Pincher Creek United Church for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.   Photo by Gillian Francis


Strikes With a Gun grew up on Piikani Nation and attended residential school as a child, where he suffered abuse at the hands of his teachers.

“We were judged, we were prosecuted,” he said in his speech. “They seized our power and our authority and they diminished our values. They put us in a box.”

The trauma he faced led to alcoholism and it took him a long time to recover.

“It’s worse than cancer,” he said. “Cancer, you get all the comfort. With alcoholism you’re alone, you die alone. It’s a lonely life. It was caused by the impact of what happened.”

Despite bad experiences, religion has helped him on his path to healing. He focused on finding values that spoke to him as an individual, he said, which meant spreading love and light to everyone.