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Thursday, August 11, 2022
‘We have to do better’: Ravine raises donations for residential school survivors
Paul Harber said "we need to do better" when it comes to mending relationships with Indigenous people and investing in Indigenous communities. Ravine raised more than $7,000 to help residential school survivors on Canada Day. Evan Saunders

Canada Day has become a complicated time of celebration and moral reckoning.

With the continuing discovery of children’s bodies buried on residential school properties across the country, more people have started to use Canada Day as an opportunity for progress and reflection as well as celebration.

This duality was well represented at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery on July 1. Chief proprietor Paul Harber organized a firework celebration for the country’s birthday and a fund for residential school survivors.

“We need to do better. We have to do better,” Harber said during an interview at the winery as preparations for the evening’s celebrations were well underway.

“I think it’s a time for Canadians to reflect on what’s really important.”

Ravine raised $7,290 on Canada Day for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. The charity is aimed at helping Indigenous people who either lived through residential schools or are dealing with intergenerational trauma caused by them.

Harber talked at length about the emotional reckoning he has had with his Canadian identity since the horrific truth of what happened at residential schools was brought to light.

“Many of us are discovering for the first time what has happened. Our hearts are aimed towards the groups that are most needed for reflection and for trying to heal what’s happened in the past.”

He was conflicted about hosting a Canada Day event.

“It’s been really tough to even understand about doing this again — to celebrate Canada,” he said.

But Harber wanted to use Canada Day as a way to reflect and make progressive action towards helping Indigenous people in Canada.

“I mean, we love Canada, we love Canada Day but what’s happened over the last few years with the discovery at residential schools …” Harber trailed off.

“I have a hard time even speaking about it,” a visibly emotional Harber said as tears welled in his eyes.

“I’m sorry. We have to do better.”

He wanted Canadians to acknowledge the truth about the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada and to work towards a better future.

“We need to be more educated. We have to understand our past whether it is a good or a bad story,” he said.

“We have to accept it and we have to learn from it and we have to make sure it never happens again.”

Harber said that being Canadian means looking out for our neighbours and that our neighbours who need us the most right now are Indigenous.

“We can only hope that we can contribute to the solution to the problem,” Harber said.

Didn’t get a chance to donate on Canada Day? Further donations for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be made at www.irsss.ca.