Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Survivor support needed in wake of ‘unimaginable’ mass burial discovery: Splatsin chief

“It really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need,” Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian said

“If there are stories to be told, let people talk.”

That was part of Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian’s message after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the former site of a Kamloops residential school.

The discovery is a stark reminder that the residential school system in Canada was in place as recently as 1996, and that while many of its survivors are living in First Nations across the country, many others did not survive.

On Thursday the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said new technology allowed for the discovery of the burial site, and forensic experts are continuing work to identify the individual children.

That work could eventually lead to the repatriation of those children to their communities and families, but right now, Kukpi7 Christian says it’s time to offer support to those in the community still reeling from the “unimaginable and horrific” news.

“For those of you who went to the residential school and are survivors, I want to really ask you to think about the support you may need,” he said in a video shared with the public Friday.

“Because it really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need. And I know that many people (have) parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles or siblings that attended this school, or what they called a school.”

Some may want words of encouragement; others may want to tell their own story.

“Let them let it out, because a lot of people still won’t talk about the horrors that took place here. A lot of people were not believed that there were actually burials at this place,” Christian said. “This confirms what our people have always said.”

The Splatsin chief said news of the discovery “knocked me off my stride for a while,” and he’s still reeling. He said it’s hard to explain the anger chiefs are feeling right now.

“(We) want to hold the governments accountable, but also the church, for what happened to the little ones.”

Christian has been working with other chiefs to organize a ceremony within the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc first, and then to all First Nations.

The band is also working around the challenge of coming together in mourning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get our people together physically, to mourn the death of these 215 babies,” Christian said.

“We’re in the midst of COVID and it makes it even more difficult because we’re trying to find out, how do we do this? And I’m sure that a lot of communities haven’t had our second vaccination yet … so we’re trying to accelerate that process.”

READ MORE: Remains of 215 children found at former residential school in Kamloops

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band ‘shocked and sickened’ by discovery at Kamloops Residential School


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

First Nationsresidential schools

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

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

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read