Next Saturday, September 30th was officially declared to be the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada three years ago.
It is a day to reflect on the oppressive colonial history of Canada and how forced assimilation through initiatives like Indian Residential Schooling committed cultural genocide of hundreds of unique First Nations.
Residential schools were a profound source of pain and prolific trauma for anyone forced to attend them.
By recognizing the errors that were made, the country is trying to ensure the traumas suffered are not glossed over and are brought to the forefront of the dialogue when it comes to First Nations relations.
Ever since the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Victoria, Capital Bike has worked with the city as well as the Songhees Nation to try to create a way for people to learn.
They achieve this by planning a big, group bike ride to explore sites that are significant to the First Nations of the area and learn from their elders and residential school survivors.
“We didn’t know how to make a meaningful contribution to reconciliation when the day was first announced,” said Adam Krupper, Executive Director, Capital Bike.
“One of our Board members is Indigenous and he suggested this idea of a ride. We loved it and jumped on it. It has helped our organization build meaningful relationships with Songhees First Nation, which we’re proud of.”
Krupper told Victoria Buzz that he didn’t know how it would go when it came time for Capital Bike to host the first year’s event.
Despite this, when Diana Sam of the Songhees Nation began speaking at a checkpoint midway through the ride, he said it brought tears to her eyes to see how many people cared about reconciliation.
“The first year, we planned for 100 participants and got 350. Last year, we planned for 350 and had 500. This year, we’re ready for at least 650.” explained Krupper.
Just like the last two years, the Truth and Reconciliation Day Ride will take place on September 30th and will end by taking attendees to the South Island Powwow at Royal Athletic Park.
Also, this year Capital Bike has announced some improvements to the ride including:
- A parade-style ride so people can bike on the whole road rather than in the bike lanes
- Rolling intersection closures to reduce waiting times
- A new stage and sound system so more people can hear and see the speakers
- Bike parking has been doubled at the South Island Powwow for attendees
“The biggest improvement this year is the parade permit along with Police closing the intersections along the route. This will make the ride easier and safer; allowing us to focus on what matters most – remembering the impact of residential schools.”
The route is a total of nine kilometres and will take participants from Songhees Park in Vic West, through downtown, along Dallas Road, then up Vancouver Street to the South Island Powwow.
“Last year, riding in bike lanes, we were over 8 blocks long,” exclaimed Krupper.
The Truth and Reconciliation Day Ride is free and is designed to be accessible for all-ages and abilities.
Riders are encouraged to wear orange because National Day for Truth and Reconciliation aligns with Orange Shirt Day across Canada.
- Where: Songhees Park, just along the water adjacent to the Delta Hotel in Vic West
- When: Saturday, September 30th, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.