The flag at half mast at the Ktunaxa Nation Government Buildling in Cranbrook, Monday, May 31. Corey Bullock photo

MLA writes of “terrible and tragic discovery” at former residential school

Flags at half-mast after remains of 215 children discovered near Kamloops

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka says the recent discovery of a mass grave for at least 215 indigenous children at the Kamloops Residential school is a stark truth about Canada’s “dark history.”

Shypitka wrote on his MLA Facebook page that the findings confirmed “an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented.”

“To me personally this is so sickening it is hard to post my thoughts in fear of understating one of the most gut wrenching events I have ever been made aware of,” Shypitka wrote.

The Ktuanxa Nation Building in Cranbrook, the City of Cranbrook, and the City of Fernie also lowered its flags to half mast in recognition of the tragic discovery.

Preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops uncovered the remains of 215 children buried at the site, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said last Thursday.

The First Nation said the remains were confirmed near the city of Kamloops.

In a statement, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc said they hired a specialist in ground-penetrating radar to carry out the work, and that their language and culture department oversaw the project to ensure it was done in a culturally appropriate and respectful way. The release did not specify the company or individual involved, or how the work was completed.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was part of the Canadian Indian residential school system. Located in Kamloops, it was once the largest residential school in Canada, with its enrolment peaking at 500 in the 1950s.

The residential school was operated by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969. The Federal government then took over the facility and ran it as a day school until it closed down in 1978.

In Canada, the Indian residential school system was a network of boarding schools for Indigenous peoples. Over the course of the system’s more than hundred-year existence, around 150,000 were placed in residential schools nationally. By the 1930s about 30 percent of Indigenous children were believed to be attending residential schools. The number of school-related deaths remains unknown due to an incomplete historical record, though estimates range from 3,200 to upwards of 6,000.

One of these schools was the Kootenay Indian Residential School (composed of the St. Eugene’s and St. Mary’s schools), run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Roman Catholic Church. It was opened in 1912, operated at the 1897-built St. Eugene Church, and closed in 1970. Between 1912 and 1970, over 5,000 children have attended the school.

“We all need to hear and learn the stories that come from the investigations that will follow in the coming days and months and truly add them to the collective of other truths we are all beginning to learn,” Shypitka said.

“I think of my constituents and friends in the Ktunaxa communities across Kootenay East and I give my heart-felt support in what is a terrible and tragic discovery.

“Let us all pray for these 215 beautiful souls.”

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. Alternately, you can reach out to the KUU-US Crisis Line Society 24-hour line at 1-800-588-8717.

With files from Wikipedia

Just Posted

The ‘official’ opening of 2nd Edition Coworking in downtown Fernie, a project five years in the making by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber Brad Parsell, incoming President of the Fernie Chamber Norm Fraser, outgoing President of the Fernie Chamber Anita Palmer, and Mayor of Fernie Ange Qualizza. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Chamber cuts the ribbon on 2nd Edition

The new coworking space in Fernie is now ‘officially’ open, but has been operating since early 2021

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks with the new AED SaveStation installed at the Sparwood Leisure Centre. (Contributed by District of Sparwood)
Sparwood installs public AED

The SaveStation was installed thanks to a grant from CP Rail

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

(File)
“Gift card scam,” and “grandparent scam” are on the rise, Cranbrook RCMP say

Folks are falling for these scams: “No Government agency or reputable company will ever ask anyone to pay with gift cards in lieu of their fines”

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read