Coleen Pierre was worried that there might be some confrontation at a rally on Sunday on the Katzie reserve in Pitt Meadows - instead, she was "overwhelmed" at the turnout and support, especially from the youth in her community.
About 70 people came to the reserve at the end of Bonson Road from several First Nations - Squamish, Kwantlen, Cheam, and Skwah - and they brought their drums, stories, and words of encouragement as the Katzie people declared their intention to "reclaim" their homes.
"I'm overwhelmed by the support we have from the young [people]," Pierre said.
Pierre organized the rally with help from her sister Eileen Kenworthy because she said she's had enough of the problems related to drugs and alcohol on the reserve.
The motivation for the rally was to recreate a safe environment for the children and grandchildren on the reserve. Pierre said that they want to teach the young people to "respect the drums" and learn about their heritage to make them proud of it.
"It's the culture that's going to get these guys back," Pierre said.
The group, which included nonnatives as well from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, marched around the small reserve and off the reserve on Bonson Road as well.
At each corner, the march stopped and people - locals and visitors - spoke about their experiences and how they supported the Katzie in their efforts to address the drug and alcohol problems on the reserve. They also spoke of healing and taking responsibility for their children.
Many wore handmade signs with messages like "Reclaiming our territory," "We struggle, we fall, we get back up," and "There's more to having fun than drugs & alcohol."
Driving home the message were children carrying many of the signs.
Kenworthy was pleased with how many community members joined in the march, and she believes people got the message that the mothers and grandmothers at Katzie are fed up - "we're done," she said.
"I hope they understand how we feel," she added. One of the concerns that prompted the march was safety, and Kenworthy said the adults have to be constantly standing on the road and watching to make sure the children are safe on the reserve.
Kenworthy said the residents on Bonson's Landing came out to see them as they went along Bonson Road, and she pointed out that the problems on the Katzie territory also affect their neighbours outside the reserve as well.
"They said 'thank you,'" she said of the Bonson's Landing residents.
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