April 23rd, 2024

Southern Albertans asked to reflect on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on September 30, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Piikani Nation is asking southern Albertans to reflect on the significance of Sept. 30, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

Chief Troy Knowlton issued a statement on Thursday stating “as we mark Truth and Reconciliation Day, I respectfully ask our neighbors in Southern Alberta to reflect on the significance of this day, not just for Piikani or other First Nations people, but for all Canadians. September 30th is a day for us to unite as communities, a province, and a nation, acknowledging not only the history of colonization and its profound impact on our peoples but also to imagine a more united and cooperative future.”

Knowlton said Sept. 30 is a solemn occasion for the Piikani people, an occasion to honour the enduring legacy of their ancestors “whose resilience in the face of immense hardships helped to safeguard our cultural identity and traditions.

The history of the residential school system, the Chief wrote, “is particularly painful for Piikani, as our community was the site of several residential schools. While these schools may no longer exist physically, their effects continue across generations.

“National and local acknowledgment of the past creates a path to deeper understanding and sets the stage for constructive conversation. Today, Piikani faces various challenges and opportunities. We grapple with the impact of the international fentanyl crisis, particularly affecting our youth,” said Knowlton.

The Nation is working with different levels of government to address issues that affect the Piikani peoples and their neighbours, he said. Those issues include water, the sustainability of which Knowlton says is a shared responsibility and need.

“My hope is that we can collectively commit to principles of respect and cooperation. Let us observe this day solemnly and, more importantly, with proactive actions. I urge all Southern Albertans to take the initiative to get to know us better. Visit, and start conversations in business, government, and everyday life. Our land, water, and air are shared resources that make us true neighbors in every sense. Let’s work together to remove any of the fences that separate us,” he said.

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