Truth Telling for Reconciliation: Keeseekoose First Nation’s Gathering

Hosted by Keeseekoose First Nation, a Saulteaux band government located in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, the Truth Telling Gathering held from September 15-17, 2023 in Regina brought together survivors, Elders, community leaders and Indigenous peoples from across Canada together to share, listen and participate in the truths of Survivors of Residential schools, honouring them and the children who never made it home.

With support from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF), the Keeseekoose First Nation covered transportation costs for Keeseekoose First Nation Survivors, youth and other community members to attend. The grant also covered accommodations for the survivors and organizers during the gathering.

The Gathering included speakers like Kimberly Murray, Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools and Archbishop Donald Bolen  to shed light on topics such as Indigenous Rights, residential schools, reconciliation and cultural preservation. Representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and local, provincial, and national government representatives also attended.

Indigenous entertainers showcased their music, dance, and storytelling talents at the Gathering. A marketplace of Indigenous arts and crafts allowed artisans to showcase creations, including beaded jewelry and traditional textiles.

The Survivor/Elders Lounge was a safe space that allowed individuals to connect, share stories, and build community. Health and ceremonial support workers were on site throughout the Gathering weekend, and attendees could engage in traditional teachings, a daily pipe ceremony at sunrise, and an evening pow-wow.

The Office of the Special Interlocutor hosts nationwide conferences but none in Saskatchewan. The Truth Telling Gathering bridged this gap, fostering reconciliation and open dialogue on residential schools. This event offered survivors a chance to meet in person, encouraging the sharing of personal stories as a path to healing and reconciliation.

About the Keeseekoose First Nation:

Keeseekoose First Nation, located in Saskatchewan, is an Indigenous community dedicated to empowering its 2,200+ members and preserving its rich cultural heritage. Named after Chief Kiishikouse (meaning “little sky”), the Keeseekoose First Nation was initially settled in Manitoba, but flooding forced relocation to their current location.

Archdiocese of Regina
Funding Partner Archdiocese of Toronto