VANCOUVER- 57 year old Haida elder Willie Abrahams bicycling this summer from Prince Rupert to the lower mainland to raise awareness of residential school issues, is an honoured guest today at a North Vancouver gathering of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation at the Squamish Nation recreation centre.
Abrahams was forced to attend St. Michael's residential school on Vancouver Island from 1950-1957 where a staff member sexually abused him. Now, he is telling his story, encouraging others to step forward and deal with their abuse.
Abrahams set out on his Honour Our Tears journey of hope and healing on July 6th and plans to complete it around mid-August in Vancouver and Nanaimo. This week the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, established to manage a $350 million healing fund is looking for input from First Nations' representatives on how the money should be managed, and how to identify the spending priorities.
For Abrahams, the timing of the invitation to attend these meetings and workshops couldn't be better. "It provides me with the opportunity to tell my story to key decision-makers and to share my message of hope to a large audience", said Abrahams. "I also welcome the encouragement and support from these people who want to do the right thing for the survivors and their families...people who have suffered so much because of the dreadful experiences in residential schools", he added.
Abrahams who will be a banquet speaker tonight, will fly back to Prince George on Friday to join his cycling team to continue the second half of their 1500 kilometre journey. Donations to the Honour Our Tears campaign can be made at any branch of the Bank of Montreal.