In the News
Honouring Victims and Survivors of Kuper Island
Thousands March for the Children in Spune’luxutth Sulxwe’en Memorial Walk
Thousands of people from Vancouver Island and many from other parts of BC participated in the Spune’luxutth Sulxwe’en Memorial Walk (March for the Children) in Chemainus on August 2. The march was part of the healing process initiated by the Penelakut Tribe following the announcement on July 8 of the confirmation of more than 160 undocumented and unmarked graves near the site of the Kuper Island Industrial School. The school operated on what was then known as Kuper Island, now Penelakut Island, from 1889 to 1975. Like other residential schools, it was the site of cruel abuse of children stolen from their families and their communities. Chemainus is a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island that overlooks Penelakut Island which is on the traditional territory of the Penelakut Tribe.
The Penelakut Tribe invited neighbouring tribes and organizations and non-Indigenous allies to join in healing sessions on July 28 and August 4 and to participate in the March for the Children, “to witness our truths.”
The march began at the Chemainus Salish Sea Market and ended at Waterwheel park where there were speakers and performances by dancers and drummers. Throughout the march and gathering at the park food and water and cultural and emotional support was provided for participants. Local Indigenous speakers and those with experience of residential schools in other parts of BC emphasized that Indigenous peoples have always known of the mistreatment and deaths of children in the residential schools and that the history that has caused such pain and suffering for generations is now becoming widely known. Many participants carried signs demanding justice for victims and survivors.
(Photos: A. Mckenzie, Kara)