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Stones placed in memory of residential school victims to become part of permanent memorial

June 17, 2021   ·   0 Comments

How can you capture the loss of 215 Indigenous children – and, undoubtedly, countless others – in mere words?

That was a challenge faced by attendees of Every Child Matters, a vigil held in Town Park on June 6, to remember the lives of 215 Indigenous children whose unmarked graves were recently uncovered in the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC.

But stones collected and sharpies in hand, those who gathered to pay tribute lined the steps of the Band Shell with their messages, a public display of art that will someday have a permanent home in Aurora.

Work is now underway at the Aurora Museum & Archives on just how this permanent tribute will form.

Museum Curator Shawna White is working with Indigenous Elder Kim Wheatley on the right path forward and shared her thoughts at the vigil.

“I have been speaking with Kim on and off for many years about how to tell these stories, how to do it and grappling myself with it,” said Ms. White. “We had just started meeting a couple of weeks ago to actually come up with a proper action plan for reconciliation and we are in the process of doing that work.

“She is working with us as our consultant to guide us on that right path. We know what we need to do – it is outlined in the Truth & Reconciliation Report [in] the 94 calls to action. Some are huge, but not all of them are. The biggest thing we can do is let people know, share that knowledge, and let them know what our history is because once you know you cannot be silent anymore.”

Indeed, following the tragic discovery late last month, the Museum reaffirmed its commitment to tell these stories.

“The Aurora Museum & Archives grieves the tragic loss of 215 Indigenous children whose bodies were found in an unmarked grave on the site of the former Kamloops Residential School,” they said. “Our rule as a museum is to ensure that the history and stories of the Indigenous community are included in our collection and shared with the community. We need to continue educating and holding ourselves accountable for our commitments to Reconciliation.

“Released in 2015, the Truth & Reconciliation Report outlined 94 Calls to Action, including the need for every Canadian to educate themselves about Indigenous history and the legacy of Residential Schools. We affirm our commitment to that responsibility and are working on a Reconciliation Action Plan that will outline specific steps that we at the Museum can undertake.”

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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