Editor’s note: This article contains details about experiences at residential schools in B.C. and may be triggering to readers.
Charlie Williams’ healing walk from Port McNeill to Campbell River came to a triumphant conclusion Friday afternoon at the Campbell River Big House.
The 61-year-old member of the Kwickwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation is a residential school survivor and did the 196 kilometre walk for “all our Nations who went to residential school.”
Williams himself was sent to St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay when he was six-years-old. There he suffered horrific abuse.
Williams set off on his Every Child Matters Walk from the Port McNeill boat ramp at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 9 and is a testimony to his determination after having been sober for more than 15 years as well as surviving 11 strokes.
“I am a survivor on a long and winding road on a path of wellness,” he said. “The memories I have are heavy and hurtful.”
He said he has made mistakes in his life and hurt people for which he is sorry. But, he says, “I am not that guy any more. I am spiritual and loving.”
He dedicated his walk to all the Nations who went to residential school and had a message for every one but particularly the youth.
“We went through a lot. Be proud always. Hold your head up. Smile at any negative that comes your way because you are more powerful than you imagine.”