Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) Chief Willie Sellars is bringing truth and reconciliation to centre ice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver Sept. 30.
Sellars, a hockey goalie himself for the Williams Lake Stampeders and avid Canucks fan, said he and William Lulua, an Indigenous actor and youth also from the Cariboo Chilcotin, have travelled to Vancouver to do a traditional dance at intermission when the Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night.
“It’s wild. Like seriously a dream come true,” Sellars told the Williams Lake Tribune of being a part of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies with the Canucks.
Sellars and Lulua will be dancing to a song called ‘Hip Hop,’ a traditional crow hop beat given to them by the Cree Confederation.
Sellars said he’s so excited to partake in the ceremonies he couldn’t hardly sleep Friday night.
“I’m about as nervous as I’ve ever been for anything,” said Sellars, who has hosted several high-ranking officials over the years, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as part of WLFN’s connection the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School located with WLFN territory.
Sellars said they put in a couple hours of practice to perform the two-minute song and are set to practice again on ice at 3:30 p.m.
He also met with the Canucks in the morning where he spoke about truth and reconciliation.
A ceremonial puck-drop recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be also be part of the game.
The Vancouver Canucks issued a statement Saturday morning recognizing the injustice done to Indigenous People and the importance for all to pause, reflect, learn and listen to the stories of survival and heartbreak.
“We need to honour the strength, courage and resilience of all those people who lived to tell their tragic stroies and never forget the thousands of children who never came home,” stated the Vancouver Canucks.
Sellars’ son, Cash, will also be in attendance with his Williams Lake-based hockey team, the U17 Northstars of the Junior Prospects Hockey League.
In Williams Lake, Indigenous leaders throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin, including Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad, have been taking part in week-long ceremonies acknowledging the 10th anniversary of Orange Shirt Day.
Webstad attended St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake when she was just six years old and told her story of her new orange shirt her grandmother bought for her being taken away on her first day at the school to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013. She said the experience made her feel like she didn’t matter, and told the commission every child should matter.