’Strength from Within’ is a sculpture by artist Connie Watts that stands next to the Tseshaht Longhouse, on the site of the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS). It commemorates survivors and those who did not make it home. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

’Strength from Within’ is a sculpture by artist Connie Watts that stands next to the Tseshaht Longhouse, on the site of the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS). It commemorates survivors and those who did not make it home. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Tseshaht First Nation to recognize closure of AIRS

Alberni Indian Residential School was shut down 45 years ago

Tseshaht First Nation will celebrate Bringing Our Children Home Day on Thursday, Aug. 2 in recognition of the historic day Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) was shut down 45 years ago.

The West Coast District Council of Indian Chiefs (now known as the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council) announced it had negotiated the closure of the residence on August 2, 1973, citing the institution’s role in breaking up the family unit as a major reason for the decision. Going to the school severed the students’ cultural ties with home and created bad relationships with parents.

The impacts of AIRS still continue today, as addressed in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

Tseshaht First Nation will start this day of recognition on Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Tseshaht Longhouse (5000C Mission Road) and invites other tribes and dignitaries to attend the event and remind themselves about successes in cultural and language revitalization.

Families and survivors are invited and encouraged to bring flowers or pictures for recognition and to pay respects.