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Watch: Chief Willie Blackwater shares message with residential school survivors for third anniversary of Truth and Reconciliation Commission

​​The First Nations Health Authority launches video of hope and healing from a BC leader and trauma survivor

This video contains sensitive content about residential school experiences and could be triggering for some viewers. For culturally safe crisis support, please phone: 1-800-KUU-US17 | 1-800-588-8717


In recognition of the third anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) completing its work, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is honoured to share a video message from Djiiwuus, Willie Blackwater, Chief of Gitsegukla First Nation on his views on reconciliation and healing for residential school survivors.

Chief Blackwater is a strong advocate for trauma survivors, and was the lead Plaintiff in the historic Blackwater v. Plint Supreme Court case, which sought the acknowledgment of and compensation for abuse committed within BC residential schools. The Supreme Court ultimately delivered its judgments in favour of the Blackwater plaintiffs, setting a precedence for similar cases to come.

"Though our trauma is shared, all residential school survivors have unique stories—and we cannot forget the bravery and resilience of those survivors who supported Canada's path toward reconciliation," says Chief Blackwater.

The video touches on the importance of speaking your truth and finding healing within yourself and through outside support, and acknowledges the courage of residential school survivors including the Blackwater plaintiffs. It also includes a direct message to survivors to let go of shame.

"The ongoing legacy of residential schools continues to affect the mental health and wellness of First Nations communities, families and individuals," says Richard Jock, FNHA COO. "The FNHA is dedicated to supporting residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors on their healing journeys. We are proud to stand beside Chief Blackwater to share his courageous story."

It is Chief Blackwater's wish that the government of Canada will honour its commitment to TRC Call to Action 80 and establish a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families, and communities and to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools. He believes that Sep. 30, Orange Shirt Day, is the appropriate date for this holiday.

Chief Willie Blackwater was filmed in Gitsegukla, Gitxsan territory.

You can watch the full video message here​.


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