Members of Tsawout First Nation and the Central Saanich community cross Mount Newton X Road to reach the Pat Bay Highway overpass during a solemn healing walk Friday, June 4. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Members of Tsawout First Nation and the Central Saanich community cross Mount Newton X Road to reach the Pat Bay Highway overpass during a solemn healing walk Friday, June 4. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Tsawout walk to Central Saanich highway overpass part of healing journey

Community demonstration honours 215 deceased children while challenging the silence

About 70 people, around half of whom were children, made a pensive walk from Tsawout First Nation’s building to the nearby Pat Bay Highway overpass on Friday.

The walk was held to support those affected by the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at Kamloops, and to heal as an Indigenous community.

“The importance of today is just to honour the resiliency and the power of our children and of our elders,” said Tsawout education manager Christine Bird.

Tsawout First Nation education manager and one coordinator of the march, Christine Bird, on the Pat Bay Highway overpass. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

A steady drumbeat brought up the end of the orange procession, which met a commotion of honks from about every third vehicle at Mount Newton X Road’s intersection with the highway. As rain started to fall about an hour later the group dissipated, and marchers observed a bald eagle carrying a large branch fly overhead.

“One of the first things the government of Canada can do is stop lying about their role in the residential school system, and acknowledge that it’s criminal what has happened to our children,” Bird said.

She was glad that ground-penetrating radar determined what residential school survivors had known for generations; that the true number of children killed by the Canadian-funded institution was far greater than originally reported.

“Non-Indigenous people value scientific facts, and this is not one that they can escape,” Bird said. “Today is about acknowledging that Canada is criminally responsible for the 215 deaths, (and) that’s just one school.”

ALSO READ: Fundraiser to search Vancouver Island’s residential schools tops $100,000

Lillian Underwood, a Tsawout manager and a member of Kluane First Nation in the Yukon, said she’d heard stories of Vancouver Island’s residential schools; elders living in the Tsawout reservation testified to children being pushed from windows and priests selecting students for sexual abuse by drawing numbers from a hat.

“Canada has finally been awakened to that reality” after framing residential school survivors as liars, Underwood said.

“Our elders have been saying this for probably 100 years now,” said Bird. “It’s something that we all live with as children and grandchildren of (residential school) survivors.”

ALSO READ: Survivor of B.C. residential school breaking silence and calling for action

Underwood, her mother, late father and late father-in-law each attended a residential school. Her daughter Asheya, 17, is the first generation of her family to not attend a residential school, Underwood said.

“I’m hoping that more investigations will go into all the other residential schools right across Canada, and each will be searched for bodies that still need to be found,” she said.

Wayne Helgason, interim band manager for Tsawout First Nation, said he was confident that, “in our own small way,” the demonstration at the overpass will “help people to join with us in insisting – without exception – that these things are dealt with.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: kiernan.green@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Indigenous peoplesresidential schoolsSaanich Peninsula

 

Lillian Underwood, Tsawout First Nation’s employment and training service manager and her daughter, Asheya, took part in Friday’s community healing march to the Pat Bay Highway. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Lillian Underwood, Tsawout First Nation’s employment and training service manager and her daughter, Asheya, took part in Friday’s community healing march to the Pat Bay Highway. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Just Posted

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Future grads at Oak Bay High will have greater scholarship opportunities available through the Oak Bay Rotary Club. (Black Press Media file photo)
Private donor quadruples donations to Oak Bay Rotary scholarship funds

The club has awarded more than $25,000 to Oak Bay High students

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

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

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read