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

A concept rendering of the proposed seven-unit, two-storey development at 1129 Riverside Ave. in Sicamous. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Proposed luxury development in Sicamous sparks parking concerns

Seven-unit commercial-residential building planned for Riverside Avenue

The Shaw Centre and the SASCU Recreation Centre are the two largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions on City of Salmon Arm properties. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
City of Salmon staff surprised COVID not cause of drop in greenhouse gas emissions

2020 sees emissions on city-owned properties decrease well below 2019 totals

Shuswap Litas and Son of Stomp head out from uptown Askew’s parking lot on Thursday, June 10, some with teddy bears and stuffies, to ride to Pierre’s Point by Adams Lake community hall to show their support for band members in the wake of the confirmation of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap bike clubs ride to support Indigenous communities

Motorcyclists go to Pierre’s Point in solidarity with bands in wake of residential school findings

Interior Health is offering mobile vaccination clinics for the first dose only of COVID-19 vaccine in the Shuswap from June 15 to June 19h. (Interior Health image)
First-dose vaccinations for COVID-19 offered via mobile clinics in Shuswap

Clinic in Salmon Arm scheduled for June 15, other clinics in Sorrento, Malakwa, Chase

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

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

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read