The memorial dedicated to students who attended the Alberni Indian Residential School. The piece has since been vandalized and police are looking for the person or persons responsible.

The memorial dedicated to students who attended the Alberni Indian Residential School. The piece has since been vandalized and police are looking for the person or persons responsible.

Alberni residential school memorial vandalism shocks survivor

Police are on the lookout for whoever vandalized a memorial commemorating Alberni Indian Residential School survivors.

Police are on the lookout for whoever vandalized a memorial commemorating Alberni Indian Residential School survivors.

The incident occurred on June 27 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., RCMP Cpl. Scott MacLeod said.

Calls to the Tseshaht First Nation weren’t returned by deadline.

One of the figures depicting a child was torn from its base, and some of the other figures were scratched. Dirt was strewn around the bottom of the memorial.

The memorial was created by Tseshaht artist Connie Watts and was underwritten with a grant and money from the Tseshaht First Nation.

The piece is located on the Tseshaht reserve on the site of the former Alberni Indian Residential School.

View Larger Map

The piece is circular with a roof and has a central pole with sub-poles supporting a winged roof meant to collect and channel away tears. The poles are adorned with steel child figures and the cement base has children’s handprints on the surface.

AIRS opened in 1891. It burned down twice: in 1917 and 1937, and was rebuilt in 1920 and 1939. The school closed in 1973. Federal policy required that aboriginal children attend residential schools for 10 months out of the year.

The vandalism shocked Huu-ay-aht First Nation member Benson Nookmis, 79, who attended AIRS from 1932-1947.

“You’re kidding me – someone actually did that? That’s terrible,” Nookmis said.

Nookmis said he wasn’t initially aware that a memorial had been created. “But I’m honoured to know that someone did something like that for us,” he said.

The vandalism is senseless and resonates more so in survivors, Nookmis said. “I guess it’s because we experienced an awful thing.”

The vandals might have had a change of heart if they read information on the memorial first. “If they read the plaque they’d have known what it was there for,” Nookmis said. “It’s too bad that people have to do things like this.”

Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the incident to call the Alberni RCMP detachment at 250-723-2424, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

The King Edward Liquor Store sponsored the Alberni Golf Club’s event on June 13. From left to right are Ken Porteous (manager of the King Edward Liquor Store) and Alberni Golf Club Members Don MacGowan, John Robbins and Wayne Cheveldave. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ALBERNI GOLF: Doug Cheetham records hole in one

Next Sunday is an open day with the best gross and the best net up for grabs

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Electric Mermaid online event hosts panel of Indigenous writers

Event takes place through Char’s Landing in Port Alberni

San Group owners Suki, left, and Kamal Sanghera with technical manager Richard Zeller at their facility in Port Alberni in Feb. 2021. The forestry company is looking at expanding its business into northwest B.C. by setting up a manufacturing unit in Terrace. (SUSAN QUINN/ Black Press file photo)
Forestry company San Group eyes Terrace for northwest B.C expansion

The company looks at Skeena Industrial Park to set up a sawmill manufacturing unit

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read