Walking the Talk
Urban Systems Team Participates in Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver
This past September 24th, over 50,000 people gathered in Vancouver to participate in the walk for reconciliation. Born from the vision of Chief Robert Joseph, the walk symbolizes a shared commitment towards reconciliation and a revitalization of positive relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
On the crisp morning of the walk, people of all ages and backgrounds amassed on Georgia Street. In the mix was a small team of people from Urban Systems, along with some of their partners and children. Together, the procession took the 2.5km walk over the Georgia Street viaduct to Strathcona Park.
At the Park, the walk wrapped up with a reconciliation Expo that featured speakers, musicians and dancers. Activities and exhibits included on-site painting with the Vancouver Mural Festival, the Right to Play children’s area, lacrosse demos, a life size replica of Carey Newman’s Witness Blanket, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation display and more.
Michelle Cho, the Director of Marketing, Communications and Outreach for Reconciliation Canada says that it’s very meaningful when organizations like Urban Systems make the choice to attend events together, and ultimately embed reconciliation into their work culture.
“Reconciliation is a journey that involves everyone — each person has an important role. Reconciliation begins with oneself and then extends into our families, relationships, workplaces and eventually into our communities.”
Vibrant Communities in Action
Urban Systems Community Planner Marina Jozipovix participated in the walk and says she was thrilled that a group from Urban attended.
“I think it shows that we are personally and professionally committed to the goals of reconciliation. As an organization, we do so much work with First Nations, it’s important for us to show that it’s more than just business, it’s part of who we are as people and as professionals.”
“It’s part of who we are as people and as professionals.”
Urban Systems Project Administrator Alexandra Morris also attended and says she felt supported to go because of the team participation from Urban. “I’m not always comfortable in crowds, but I felt safe participating alongside my colleagues.”
“The history of residential schools is more widely known now,” she continues, “but this hasn’t always been the case.”
“So many different backgrounds with this one same hope for the future.”
“My initial experience with First Nations history came through school and community. There certain details were glossed over—perhaps deemed inappropriate for young children—and I remember only brief mention of a nationally-adopted Canadian scheme to deny and if possible, eradicate, the culture of an entire people. Today the fact that more and more voices are joining the discussion and raising the volume on that fact is inspiring. I hope that everyone involved in the walk went home with something new to talk about. Especially the children.”
The speakers and performances were another draw for Alexandra. She says listening to people discuss things in person breathed life into the experience of Indigenous people in a way that reading about it could never do.
“It’s as important to hear these stories though it can be difficult – perhaps it’s most important when it is difficult. I was unprepared for the emotional rush of seeing a wide swath of representation on the main stage, when it came time for leaders to take part in a blanketing ceremony. The variety of cultural performers at the Expo was a fitting tribute to the variety of faces in the audience: so many different backgrounds with this one same hope for the future.”