“We Are All One”: Thousands join Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver

“We Are All One”: Thousands join Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver


Namwayut, ‘Namwayut, ‘Namwayut.”

On Sunday September 24, 2017, local Baha’is and their friends joined 50,000 people of all backgrounds at the 2017 Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, situated on the traditional shared territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nations.

Namwayut, meaning “We Are All One”, comes from the Kwak’wala language of the  Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people walked shoulder to shoulder, with drums beating and voices singing, to  participate in the Walk for Reconciliation organized by Reconciliation Canada.

The Walk began with words from a few individuals, including an elder who spoke of her experience of suffering and survival during the era of the Residential School system, and her experiences with discrimination faced in the public school system in British Columbia. Chief

Chief Robert Joseph, a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, and Ambassador and Co-Founder of Reconciliation Canada was the last to speak before the Walk began.

“This is an important moment for all of us in this country and in this province and this beautiful city,” began Chief Joseph. “We are talking about ourselves. We are walking for each other. We are looking for a way forward together that will be unlike anything we’ve ever walked before. Where hope shall prevail. And we’ll all be inspired to be the best kinds of human beings that we possibly can be.”

The two-kilometre walk came to an end at Strathcona Park, the site of the Reconciliation Expo. The Expo provided participants and passersby with many opportunities to learn about Indigenous culture and the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The Expo also included a variety of performances and presentations on the main stage, reflecting the theme of diversity and inclusivity that the walk embodied. Performances included V’ni Dansi (Vancouver-based traditional Métis dance school), Sawagi Taiko (the first all-women’s taiko group in Canada), Tsatsu Stalqaya (Coastal Wolf Pack), Axe Capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art Academy), and the Royal Academy of Bhangra (Punjabi Folk Dance Academy).

Throughout the program, prominent individuals shared words regarding the importance of reconciliation and oneness. Speakers included the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s Minister of Justice, Karen Joseph, co-Founder of Reconciliation Canada, Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver, and John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia.

The first half of the program came to a close with the performance of a Kwakwaka’wakw song called K’a’niya, translated as “Flight of the Thunderbird.” William Wasden led the song alongside Stephanie Thompson, granddaughter of Chief Robert Joseph, accompanied by a number of friends, including many from the Baha’i community. The performance included the Lorita Leung Dance Company, Axe Capoeira and the Royal Academy of Bhangra, displaying a weaving together of the many cultures that adorn the West Coast of Canada.

Thousands that day were moved by the words of Chief Robert Joseph. “I love you all, I hope that in this walk today we discover many things about ourselves, but more important beyond this day we take it personally to move the idea of reconciliation forward.”