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(July 6, 2021, Fort McMurray, AB

Our First Nation members have long-known the amount of abuse that our children experienced when taken to Residential Schools. These schools were built for the purpose of taking the Indian out of the child and for the purpose to take the children from the arms of their parents. It was a system to remove children from their ability to speak their language, from the ability to be able to be loved and nurtured by their community. It was done in a way that no parent today would accept and never should have happened in the first place. 

Much of the trauma and atrocities against our children was done by the hands of the Nuns and Priests by a system put in place by the government. Our children were hidden in unmarked graves and never returned home. The Chiefs of the Athabasca Tribal Council’s First Nations want a movement of healing to begin where our peoples’ experiences are shared openly. 

It is only when the people of Canadian society truly listen to our experiences they will see that it is not hard to understand the level of abuse that was done in the name of the Church and how that still affects our societies today through the intergenerational trauma that continues as a result of the abuse and the deaths that occurred in Residential Schools. 

The five First Nation Chiefs of the Athabasca Tribal Council walk in unity with our Residential School Survivors and their families that were impacted and the children that never made it home. We ask the public of the Wood Buffalo Region to join our First Nations and Métis community as we walk in solidarity and as we share our stories to open the eyes and the hearts of Canadians to understand a brutal part of our Canadian history. 

The Chiefs call on our region to join them in walking in solidarity and attend the Memorial Gathering in Solidarity on Wednesday, July 7, at the Snye. 

Memorial Walk in Solidarity

  • Starting at 8:00 a.m. at Highway 69, walking along Highway 63. Then taking Prairie Loop Boulevard to Snye Point Park. Expected arrival between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Community members who want to participate but cannot walk long distances are encouraged to follow in a vehicle. Please use cautions and be aware of your own safety at all times. Those who wish to stay overnight and bring their own tents are welcome.

Memorial Gathering in Solidarity

A Memorial Gathering in Solidarity will occur at Snye Point Park at approximately 11:00 a.m.

ATC will have a teepee and trappers tent set up for a small cultural village. Survivors will be sharing their experiences and Indigenous community members will be sharing knowledge and traditional practices with attendees. 

Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets as seating is limited. Everyone is asked to maintain physical distance or wear a mask to protect themselves, our Elders and communities from the COVID-19 virus. 

ATC Community Members who are in need of emotional support are encouraged to call the Athabasca Tribal Council’s IRS Support Worker, Lyn Chartrand, at 780-799-2461, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all Indigenous people.

For more information: 

Chief Allan Adam
President, Athabasca Tribal Council
Chief, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation