An event that will explore truth and reconciliation in the community will be held at the Smithers Public Library on June 10. It will be an afternoon of learning, stories, songs, drumming and dancing as people discover what reconciliation means for Smithers and the surrounding area.
Library director Wendy Wright said the event will be held at the library because it is a safe place and everyone owns it.
“It is a trusted source of information and a place for independent education. So this is a space where people can come to learn new things,” she said. “Also, everyone uses the library and it is a neutral and safe feeling place to have what can be an uncomfortable conversation. It can be a difficult and emotional conversation. We hope that everyone can feel at home here.”
The event will be divided into four parts: a welcome and introduction, reconciling the past, acknowledging the present and moving forward together.
The welcome will come from Chief Timber Wolf, and an elder from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en will speak on the topic of reconciliation and what it means to the First Nation. Then, there will be a look at the past with a timeline and some Wet’suwet’en history from this region and a residential school survivor will tell her story followed by music and drumming for healing. There will also be someone to speak about the process of unlearning.
“It is something that has to happen perhaps to make room for growth, we have to unlearn some of the false beliefs about ourselves and each other to make room for new beliefs and new knowledge,” said Wright.
Then, there will be a look at the current Wet’suwet’en experience in this community today and recent times. It will be followed by some reflection on how to move towards reconciliation together. Wright added the conversation will be very specific to the area.
“The overall purpose of the afternoon is to plant seeds within the community to give community members knowledge about each other and to start reconciliation within each one of us, asking what can we do to help all of us come together,” she said.
Organizing the event started in October and Wright wanted as many organizations as possible to be involved in the process. The library is hosting it along with 14 partners, including the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, Moricetown Band council, Dze L K’ant Friendship, Smithers Bridging Committee, School District 54 Aboriginal Education Council, the Town of Smithers, the Village of Telkwa, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Northwest Community College, Smithers Community Services Association, Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce, Bulkley Valley Museum, Northwest Library Federation and the Wetzinkwa Community Forest Corporation.
“I’m so so pleased to see all of theses organizations come together to work on the event,” she said. “It sends a very powerful message to the community that reconciliation is something that a lot of people see the need for.”
The event will run from 2-4 p.m. on June 10 and it is open for everyone. There is no cost to attend. The library will close for the entire day to set up and take down.
A memorial walk for Ramona Wilson will be held on the same day. It starts an hour before and people attending the walk are welcome to join in the library event afterwards.