National Indigenous Peoples Day in Kelowna started with a walk to remember and honour the children who died while they were attending residential schools.
Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society’s executive director Edna Terbasket said it’s not meant to be sombre or dark, but was a way for those still dealing with intergenerational trauma caused by the school system, to find peace.
“Those little ones from Kamloops, when they’re uncovered and returned to their home, (I hope) that their families and themselves will find peace,” she said.
“Right now, they’re little lost souls hovering and not understanding what happened to them, but now I hope they finally find peace.”
The walk began about 10 a.m. June 21, from Parkinson Recreation Centre, going over the overpass and then coming down to Sutherland Avenue, and back up along Harvey Avenue through Burtch Street, then back again to the recreation centre.
It was a well-attended walk, with approximately one hundred people joining. Terbasket said she was glad to see all of the people who came out to support the Indigenous community, as well as those who came out to learn more about this recent tragic discovery and how it has reopened wounds.
The walk was followed by singing, drumming, dancing, and some speeches from local Elders, and other Indigenous community leaders.
Representatives from the Kelowna RCMP attended the event, offering words of support for the event, saying that they look forward to working with the Syilx Okanagan community and learning more from its Elders.
Terbasket said she hopes people will become more aware and more open to learning about the past of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the ongoing inequities between the Indigenous and Canadians. But above all, she said she hopes that today paves the way for moving forward and healing.
“My mother said those children were meant to be found. Now, Canada can’t hide that, Canada can’t sweep it under the rug and say ‘it didn’t happen’,” she said.
“Let’s be honest and truthful. Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”