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Payhonin Reconciliation St. Albert

Five years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada held its last national event in Edmonton. This marked the end of one process and the beginning of another. It was the end of the Commission’s work, but it was the beginning of our community’s journey on the path to reconciliation.

The truth phase of this work is about learning about the hard truths of residential schools, the 60s scoop and the devastating impact this history has had on generations of Indigenous Peoples.

These are difficult historical events that are hard to process, but by learning more about our shared history we are also building a shared understanding of those things we have in common. We will come to realize that we are all treaty people, and that we all share a responsibility to work together towards a better future for everyone in our community.

The reconciliation part of this work is about restoring balanced relationships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

This work is difficult and will take a significant amount of time and effort. But it is essential for our community to work together on this path toward reconciliation.

The City began its own journey towards reconciliation by working with the Indigenous community to establish a Healing Garden in St. Albert.

One of the first of its kind in Canada, the Healing Garden acknowledges survivors of Indian Residential Schools and provides a place for reflection and healing in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. St. Albert was home to two residential schools: the St. Albert Indian Residential School, also known as Youville, which was located on Mission Hill just north of downtown St. Albert, and the Edmonton Indian Residential School, also known as Poundmaker, which was located about six km east of downtown St. Albert.

The Healing Garden officially opened on September 15, 2017.* It has become an important landmark in our community. The Garden is a visible sign of our community’s commitment to walk in right relations with First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, and with all Nations. This sacred place brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples together to learn more about how we can improve our understanding of one another and move forward together.

The City is continuing to work with the Indigenous community as we prepare for the next phase of our path to reconciliation.

On April 17 at 1 p.m., at the St. Albert Curling Club, we will hold an official launch of Payhonin Reconciliation St. Albert. Payhonin is the Cree word for gathering place and is a traditional Indigenous name for the valley where St. Albert is located. This event will mark the formal start of the engagement phase of our reconciliation journey. The input we receive will be used to develop an advisory framework and develop an Indigenous learning strategy for the City of St. Albert.

Please watch the City website in the coming weeks for more information on this event.

Throughout April and May, we plan to provide the community with a variety of ways to learn more, to share their stories and to get involved in the reconciliation process:

  • Tea and Talking Circles
  • Focus Groups
  • Review of current land acknowledgement
  • An online survey to gauge people’s awareness of Indigenous history
  • Opportunity to take a personal pledge to support the work of reconciliation.

*Date Clarification (added to this article on April 3, 2019):

  • May 10, 2017: Pipe Ceremony and Sod Turning to prepare the site for construction of the Healing Garden
  • September 15, 2017: Official Opening of the Healing Garden

Last edited: April 8, 2019

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