The B.C. First Nations 12 class at Pen-Hi had discussed the Calls to Action.
Now they've answered the call.
Earlier this week, they started digging up a garden next to the school’s track in order to signify that commitment.
The 94 recommendations included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report ask everyone — from government officials to average Canadians — to do something to help reconcile the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system.
“We read and we sit and talk but (the students) felt they wanted to do more with this,” said Pen-Hi teacher Russ Reid. “As a group we decided to do something positive and inclusive and we’ve tried our best.”
Elder Grace Greyeyes from the Penticton Indian Band spoke with the students before they set out to work and shared a prayer.
“I pray for our land, it’s been here for thousands and thousands of years. Our people took care of it, we were called the keepers of the land. I ask the Creator to bless our land with what’s going to happen here,” she said.
“I will give tobacco to the earth when you start digging to ask the spirits of those plants that they grow strong and tall and last a long time. So that these kids will understand what it means to be keepers of the land.”
Hereditary Chief of the Penticton Indian Band Adam Eneas added that reconciliation extends beyond individual actions to respect and compassion for one another.
“I think if you keep your eyes, your minds and your hearts open and accepting and be willing to treat other people as you’ve treated yourselves, then there is no need to plant any more gardens of reconciliation," Eneas said.
The school will continue to add to the garden over the next several years.