Hearts fill with emotion as children’s spirits return from Kamloops to Splatsin

Splatsin members and their supporters walk on Sept. 10 , the last day of the five-day Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops residential school. Here they were walking the spirits of the children who died in Kamloops to meet the spirits of children at Splatsin’s Shihiya School in order to join past, present and future. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Splatsin members and their supporters walk on Sept. 10 , the last day of the five-day Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops residential school. Here they were walking the spirits of the children who died in Kamloops to meet the spirits of children at Splatsin’s Shihiya School in order to join past, present and future. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) Edna Felix was the main organizer of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby from Sept. 6 to 10. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) Edna Felix was the main organizer of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby from Sept. 6 to 10. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) Theresa William, one of the organizers of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey, is pictured on Sept. 10, the final day of the five-day journey. She set a fast pace for herself, describing it as a mission for her to get the children home. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) Theresa William, one of the organizers of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey, is pictured on Sept. 10, the final day of the five-day journey. She set a fast pace for herself, describing it as a mission for her to get the children home. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
A group of walkers including one of the organizers, Laureen Felix, carrying a white Eagle feather, make their way along the final portion of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey on Sept. 10, the fifth and final day. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)A group of walkers including one of the organizers, Laureen Felix, carrying a white Eagle feather, make their way along the final portion of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey on Sept. 10, the fifth and final day. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian walks alongside Gabriel Felix on Sept. 10, the final day of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to the Splatsin #2 Cemetery and on to the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian walks alongside Gabriel Felix on Sept. 10, the final day of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to the Splatsin #2 Cemetery and on to the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
The Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School makes a stop on Sept. 10 at Splatsin’s Shihiya School to bring the past, present and future together – the past being the students who died, the present being the current students at Shihiya, who are also Splatsin’s future. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)The Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School makes a stop on Sept. 10 at Splatsin’s Shihiya School to bring the past, present and future together – the past being the students who died, the present being the current students at Shihiya, who are also Splatsin’s future. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Splatsin’s Helen Duteau, 80, walks energetically during the last day, Sept. 10, of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to Splatsin #2 Cemetery and the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Splatsin’s Helen Duteau, 80, walks energetically during the last day, Sept. 10, of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to Splatsin #2 Cemetery and the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) George William, one of the organizers of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey, walks with Darrel Jones, Splatsin education director on Sept. 10, the final day of the five-day journey. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) George William, one of the organizers of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey, walks with Darrel Jones, Splatsin education director on Sept. 10, the final day of the five-day journey. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Members of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops residential school take time at the Splatsin #2 Cemetery in Enderby on Sept. 10 before carrying on to the Splatsin Community Centre. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Members of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey from the Kamloops residential school take time at the Splatsin #2 Cemetery in Enderby on Sept. 10 before carrying on to the Splatsin Community Centre. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

There is content in this article about residential schools that may be triggering to some readers.

As their feet touched the ground, so did emotions touch their hearts.

From Sept. 6 to 10, a group from the Splatsin First Nation walked more than 100 kilometres to ensure the spirits of 215 children whose remains were confirmed at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, were not left stranded, were not kept away from their home as they had been in life.

Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillor) Edna Felix, the main organizer of the Splatsin Walking Our Children’s Spirits Home Journey, spoke of how the emotional weight of the journey rose and fell.

When community supporters and area politicians met up with the walkers on the last day, not far from Splatsin’s Shihiya School, Felix spoke of how heavy her emotions were at that time.

“It hurts the heart so much.”

Felix was joined on the five-day walk by a core group of organizers and walkers which included her daughter Laureen as well as Splatsin Tkwamipla7 (Councillors) Theresa William and George William. Other supporters included Cindy Monkman, Steve Kulmatycki, chief and council, Splatsin youth, and more.

Theresa William spoke of how powerful the walk was, that she felt driven to walk quickly as she was on a mission to get the children home. She said her mother was a residential school survivor, an experience and its effects that the walk was helping her to understand. She said a lot of Splatsin are the children or grandchildren of residential school survivors.

Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian spoke with emotion of his mother, who he said was one of the little children who survived the abuse day after day, year after year – the reason that he is alive and has children and grandchildren today.

Read more: Three Feathers Walk stops at Pierre’s Point with a message of hope

Read more: From Saskatchewan to Salmon Arm, walker speaks of wish for healing for all people

Read more: To honour children, Shuswap woman takes two walks from two residential schools

On the way to Splatsin Cemetery 2 and the closing ceremony at Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby, the walk stopped at the Shihiya School, where children could be seen and heard playing and laughing outside.

Edna Felix explained the walk was bringing the past, present and future together – the past being the children who died in Kamloops, and the present, the current students at Shihiya who are Splatsin’s future.

Kukpi7 Christian addressed the students, saying the community had come to honour them, and to ask the spirits to lift them up, to give them strength and to nurture their lives. He said he hoped they know and understand they’re Secwépemc, which encompasses the songs, the prayers, the language.

“That’s who we are, that’s what was taken away at these places they call residential schools.”

He also thanked the teachers.

“In your hands, our future lies.”

Read more: Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

Read more: Caravan bound for former residential school finds show of support in Salmon Arm

Read more: Splatsin Nation members walk children’s spirits home from Kamloops residential school

One person on the walk said the children who died in residential schools were never forgotten. The elders have been talking about them for decades, but nobody listened.

“Now they’re awakened.”

Kukpi7 Christian emphasized the need for a new public school curriculum, a project that would be a legacy for people to work on together. He said the history and effects of institutions like the one in Kamloops are not widely known or understood.

“That’s why I think we have to invest in the future and change the curriculum of the public schools so we can really tell the story.”


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

and subscribe to our daily newsletter.

First Nationsresidential schools