OTTAWA, April 22 /CNW/ - The Journey of Freedom is bringing a healing message of forgiveness, hope and freedom to Aboriginal Canadians who have been affected by the negative legacy of the Indian Residential School system. The Journey of Freedom will arrive at its 17th stop across Canada this Friday, April 23, 2010, in Winnipeg, MB. Residential school survivors are invited to this event, scheduled for 10am - 2pm at the Thunderbird House. This national tour will culminate in a National Forgiven Summit planned for June 11-13, 2010, at the Ottawa Civic Centre; invited to attend are the Prime Minister, government officials, church leaders, indigenous peoples, and the general public. More information on these and other upcoming events can be found at: www.i4give.ca.
This Journey of Freedom is led by Chief Kenny Blacksmith, founder of Gathering Nations International, a residential school survivor and past Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, of Quebec. His message is simple but profound:
"It's time for our people to be free. For too long, unforgiveness and bitterness have been a prison locking a vision that gives life and hope to our people. It's time to let go of a negative past."
Indian Residential School system has cast a long shadow on the lives of many individuals, families and communities, and on our nation as a whole. This was acknowledged in a profound way, on June 11, 2008, when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended an apology to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for the historic wrongs and abuses experienced as a result of the Indian Residential School system. He also asked for forgiveness, and this journey is a response to that request:
"To our knowledge, of all the public apologies that have been made regarding atrocities to Aboriginal peoples, our Canadian Prime Minister is the first to explicitly ask for forgiveness. This leaves our people in a position to respond. We can either choose to hold on to the past, or embrace freedom, which is available through an act of forgiveness."
Chief Blacksmith's message is a fundamentally spiritual one:
"Forgiveness is not political. It is not legislative. Forgiveness is spiritual. Therefore, we need to respond spiritually. This six-month, spiritual journey will make ready the hearts of our people to formally respond to the apology and to the specific request for forgiveness of Prime Minister Harper this June."
SOURCE GATHERING NATIONS INTERNATIONAL
For further information: For further information: For Media Inquiries contact: Shauna Simmonds, firstname.lastname@example.org, (647) 244-1486; For Journey of Freedom Inquiries contact: Bill Mintram, email@example.com, (613) 784-9303; For National Forgiven Summit Inquires contact: firstname.lastname@example.org