Tseshaht Chief Councillor Cynthia Dick reads a formal statement at the closing of Reclaiming Lost Souls of the Alberni Inlet Residential School. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Healing from residential school experience requires fuller redress, says Vancouver Island chief

Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni draws hundreds for three-day healing event

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

After three days of helping hundreds of people heal from the residential school legacy, Tseshaht First Nation called on federal and provincial governments to honour their commitments and play their part.

“There is still pain, there is still hurt,” said Martin Watts in closing remarks at Reclaiming the Lost Souls of Alberni Inlet Residential School (AIRS).

“We don’t want our children to see that anymore. We want to see them grow.”

Healing ceremonies were held steps away from the site of AIRS, a church-run residential school attended by Indigenous children from across B.C. Tseshaht forced the closure of AIRS in 1973.

Tseshaht Chief Councillor Cynthia Dick delivered a closing statement Saturday to participants in Maht Mahs Gym, drawing a direct line between colonial practices of the past and government policy in the 21st century. Proper redress would allow them access to land and timber in their territory, the means for a sustainable future, she said.

“Tseshaht First Nation is calling upon the provincial and federal governments to honour their commitments of adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) calls to action … This would allow Tseshaht to continue to do this important work without having to beg for access to our own resources within our territories,” she said.

Dick also urged Ottawa to provide more information on the 2015 TRC report, citing uncertainties surrounding five generations of children who lost their lives in residential schools between 1891 and 1973.

“We are seeking clarification and closure to understand how people died under church and government care and how the records were kept,” Dick said.

READ: Names of children who died in residential schools released in sombre ceremony

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on Monday at a ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec revealed the names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools.

Centre director Ry Moran said “it is essential these names be known.” The 2,800 to be honoured are those whose deaths and names researchers have been able to confirm. Moran said there are another 1,600 who died, but remain unnamed.

A total of 150,000 Indigenous children are thought to have spent at least some time in a residential school.

Chief Dick described residential schools as a “dark time in history” and mourned the children who did not survive the experience. Estimates of school-related deaths across Canada range from 3,200 to 6,000, though records are incomplete.

Tseshaht believe that when AIRS, known as Peake Hall, was torn down, the souls of many children found refuge in neighbouring homes and buildings. Reclaiming these lost souls therefore plays an important part as the community continues to heal.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Members of Tseshaht First Nation sing and drum during a dinner on Friday, Sept. 27. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Members of Tseshaht First Nation dance around Maht Mahs Gym during a welcoming dinner on Friday, Sept. 27. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Martin Watts emceed the ‘Reclaiming the Lost Souls of the Alberni Indian Residential School’ event last weekend. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Just Posted

LOOK BACK: The men who built the first Stamp Falls fish ladder

Delve into Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum online

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

ALBERNI GOLF: Van Lent gets hole in one

Next Sunday, Oct. 4 will be the windup for Sunday morning golf for this crazy year of 2020

EDITORIAL: Election forces change, uncertainty for Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding

The Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding is heading into a snap election at a time when we least need it.

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

First Nations Health Authority chief medical officer concerned with rising COVID-19 cases

“There’s still so much we don’t know and we’re learning everyday about this particular virus.”

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Most Read