We Are All Treaty People

Rock Your Roots: A Walk For Reconciliation

  • Published - 04/07/2016
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  • Posted By - OTC
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Thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Saskatoon for the first Rock Your Roots, Walk for Reconciliation on June 22.

“To see so many people come out, and to see the diversity of the crowd walking side by side, it literally gave me goose bumps a couple of times! It was just such a powerful and positive statement of reconciliation and the resilience of Saskatchewan people,” said Rhett Sangster, one of the organizers and Director of Reconciliation and Community Partnerships with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

The event was the culmination of a month of reconciliation activities going on in the city to promote togetherness and awareness in the community.

"Our organizing committee was such an incredible mix of people who came together each week to eat together, to learn together, and very often, to laugh together. The group was incredibly diverse - we had people from all walks of life - over 30 organizations were participating by the end,” Sangster said.

Rock Your Roots saw people from different nationalities representing who they are, from the colourful ketenge fabric of Africa, to Scottish kilts, to beaded regalia of Canada’s First Nations.

About 120 people in the walk were recent immigrants and refugees to Canada, many who carried signs encouraging reconciliation, including those reading ‘I am from South Sudan’ and ‘I am from China.’
Also filling the streets were kids from Saskatoon schools – all sporting the newly minted Reconciliation Saskatoon logo on specially designed buffs. They walked alongside about 60 residential school survivors.

"To me it really validated that reconciliation is not only possible in Saskatchewan, but that the process of reconciliation - that of coming together and learning and building and planning together - that this is an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience for those who are willing to jump in and take a few risks and get to know their neighbor," Sangster said.

The walk and month of activities was spearheaded by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the City of Saskatoon, as part of the City’s Declaration of a Year of Reconciliation.

The Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. and the Saskatoon Tribal Council joined the effort, along with a coalition of over thirty business, civil society, faith-based, and government organizations across the city. 

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner hopes this is the beginning of a regular event in the city and around the province. There have been calls to make it a national event, including one by Saskatchewan columnist Doug Cuthand.

Whatever comes of the Walk, there is already agreement among the organizing partners to continue working together. We want to create opportunities for Saskatchewan people to better know their neighbours, to honour survivors of residential schools and their families, and to inspire each of us to find our personal Calls to Action. This is the path for building a better future for us all.