A Saskatoon cyclist is touring all the 20 federally recognized Residential School sites in Saskatchewan.
As a non-Indigenous person B’yauling Toni is using his talent to bring greater awareness and foster reconciliation.
“I think it’s so important that we as individuals, non-Indigenous people, use our own platform, our own personal abilities to be actively involved in reconciliation. To go out there; to reach out to these communities and give them recognition and to facilitate a healing process. It takes learning first to go and educate yourself, because without education you can’t have empathy.”
Toni started his trek on August 2nd and has already covered 17 of the former sites. He stopped in Onion Lake on Wednesday and Thursday community leaders took him on a tour of the St. Barnabas Residential School site.
The 20-year old is an avid cyclist and is unsupported in his journey, meaning that he takes all his gear on his bike including a tent.
He jokes he hasn’t had to use his tent often with the welcome he has received from many of the communities.
He has cycled over 2000 kms on this journey and it gives him a lot of time to think about the people he has met and the things he has heard.
“I see a lot of suffering. A lot of damage in the communities. Residential Schools have left a very, very deep scar and the healing process is going to take a long time. I see a lot of abuse through those schools. A lot of just inhumane things that happened and that trauma has carried on for generations.”
Apart from raising awareness and learning about Indigenous culture, he is also delivering moccasins to pay homage to the children who lived and died in residential schools in Saskatchewan.
He heads to Delmas next, to the site of the former Thunderchild Residential School and will complete his trip on August 25, with a stop at the Duck Lake St. Michael site, before heading home.