Empty pairs of children’s shoes and stuffed animals sit on the steps outside of the Kelowna Courthouse on June 1 in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Empty pairs of children’s shoes and stuffed animals sit on the steps outside of the Kelowna Courthouse on June 1 in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Kelowna council motions for action after Kamloops burial site discovery

Councillors say more than ‘just words and statements’ are needed

In the wake of the discovery of the bodies of at least 215 children in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, Kelowna city council began its Monday (May 31) meeting with a moment of silence.

Following the silence, Mayor Colin Basran tabled a motion, which received unanimous support from his council colleagues. It read: “That council direct staff to provide council with an information report on the status on any actions or plans the City of Kelowna is undertaking or can be advancing with respect to truth and reconciliation with our local First Nations.”

“During a week where we felt the grief of losing three young people in our community in a car accident, then to learn about the discovery of 215 children in a mass grave — it’s almost unbearable,” said Basran, referencing the death of three Kelowna Secondary School students in a car crash on May 26.

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge reiterated his support for the mayor’s motion and acknowledged that “We operate in a colonialized system.”

“What we all have to remember as we move through reconciliation as settlers is that we need to commit to action — not just words and statements,” he said.

Coun. Gail Given echoed Wooldridge’s sentiment, saying she couldn’t imagine the pain of the reopened wounds the local Syilx community experienced.

“You can say you’re grieving and you’re sad and send your sympathies, but really, if this isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is.”

Westbank First Nation issued a statement on the tragedy Monday, offering its grief and condolences.

“To our members, community members, staff members, and all those whose pain has been triggered by this horrendous act, please know that we stand with you,” said WFN.

“From what was shared, there are many more communities that have members who attended Kamloops Indian Residential School and, in acknowledgement, council stands in support of all communities affected by this tragic uncovering of truths which we as Indigenous people have known and felt for generations.”

Indigenous children from many Interior B.C. communities were sent to the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the largest school in Canada’s Indian Affairs residential school system, where the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery last Thursday (May 27). Chief Rosanne Casimir called it an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about, but never documented.”

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” Casimir said. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.”

The RCMP is working with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community leaders in determining the next steps and the best way to be involved, while at the same time being supportive, respectful and culturally sensitive to the Indigenous communities that are impacted.

– With files from Kamloops This Week

READ MORE: Kelowna flags at half-mast after discovery of Kamloops residential school burial site

READ MORE: B.C. premier ‘horrified’ at discovery of remains at Kamloops residential school site

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of Kelownaresidential schools

Just Posted

The Shuswap River in Enderby draws in people from near and far in the summer months of each year. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
RDNO ends lengthy attempt to bring new boating regulations to Shuswap River

With no consensus among stakeholders or remaining funds, the regional district is moving on

sdaf
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

Central Okanagan Public Schools is assisting with the distribution of a donation of $500 to every Grade 12 graduating student in the school district. (File photo)
Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads get $500 surprise

Anonymous donor gifts $500 to every Grade 12 student

The Kelowna school trustee by-election takes place Saturday, June 26, for the Central Okanagan School District. (Contributed
Meet the Kelowna trustee by-election candidates

Four candidates look to fill vacant seat on board of education

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

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

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Most Read