Hundreds mark July 1 in Fredericton by participating in healing walk

The discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites led many Maritime communities to cancel Canada Day celebrations, instead, asking residents to take a moment and learn about that part of the country’s history.

In Fredericton, the Wolastoqey Nation hosted a healing walk, where hundreds were in attendance.

St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Allan Polchies says it's about honouring and respecting the young lives lost.

“It is a day to ask our community members, our allies and everyone who lives here in the Wolastoqey territory to walk with us to help us heal…we’re going to educate one another on what residential school was, and what it has done,” says Polchie.

Most dressed in orange as they walked along the river in the downtown of the city.

Premier Blaine Higgs and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn participated, promising to move forward in reconciliation.

“We met with the chiefs on the 17th of June and really it was a learning session to talk about their experiences and listen to things that happened to them and what they thought would be best practices in terms of moving forward,” Dunn says.

“The idea was put out there that they would actually come back to us with a proposal.”

Dunn says any investigation into New Brunswick’s role will be Indigenous-led.

Chief Polchies said he hoped – no matter where people were spending July 1 – they would take a moment to listen and learn.

“I hope all of those who couldn’t be with us today, who are having backyard gatherings, BBQs, know it’s a day of reflection and I hope they’re having conversations.”