As we see and hear about the painful discovery of the 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, we would like to spend some time together to remember, honour and move forward.
A sacred fire and drum circle will occur at the Mir Centre for Peace arbour on the Castlegar Campus. It will be led by the Elders Program and Indigenous Services staff.
- Wednesday, June 2 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
- The sacred fire will be lit at 6:15 p.m. and medicines offered.
We are limited in size due to provincial health orders, so this event is for Indigenous students and staff of the college. Please bring your own hand drum and wear your mask at all times. Parking is limited at the Mir Centre.
This piece was provided by artist Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel. Thank you. Read the artist statement and bio..
Supports in Place Locally and Provincially
Selkirk College understands how deeply this discovery impacts so many in our college community. For those affected by the deep-rooted trauma of residential schools and those triggered by this most recent tragic discovery, there are supports available at the provincial level and through Selkirk College's Indigenous Services.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066 and more information can be found here.
- A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. The 24-hour national crisis line can be accessed at 1-866-925-4419.
- Support for employees can accessed by using the 24/7 Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) through Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142.
- Indigenous students are encouraged to connect with Leah Lychowyd, counsellor for Indigenous students at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Selkirk College Counselling services can be reached through https://selkirk.ca/counselling-services
Read Selkirk College President Angus Graeme's Statement...
Gilakas’la. My artwork, titled “We Stand Together in Remembrance of Our Children - 215” was created to honour the souls of all our children that were taken away from our families, our villages, our Nations as part of the Government of Canada’s genocidal attempt to eradicate all of our peoples.
The family figures around the circle represent the people of all directions—North, South, East and West, and the directions in between—each headdress signifies the great Nations of our peoples all across the lands that Canada claims as its own. The smaller figures are abstract representations of our children—I chose the colour yellow to symbolize the Sun, that which gives us life—just as our children do… they are our reason for being. The children’s arms are raised up in thanks and joyfulness and playfulness—what every child should experience throughout their growing-up years.
Inside the circle, there is another circle representing a braid of our sacred red cedarbark—from our Tree of Life—to represent all the beauty and strength of our respective cultures and cultural ways.
As a survivor of Alberni Residential School, I wanted people to know that there is nothing more powerful than when we stand together—this is a teaching I knew at age six, before I went to residential school. It is what gave me hope when I was immersed in the hopelessness of that place; and it is what gives me strength today as we continue to seek justice.
Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel is from the Mamalillikulla and Kwagiulth of the Kwakwaka’wakw. She has been a practicing artist for over 40 years (she still calls it ‘doodling’ sometimes!). Lou-ann comes from artistic families on both sides, with her grandmother, Ellen Kakasolas Neel, being her biggest inspiration and motivation. Ellen also attended residential school at St. Mike’s in Alert Bay and went on to have a full-time career as a professional artist. Lou-ann is a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and currently serves as acting head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.
This artwork is copyright protected. Please no copying, printing or reproduction of this work without the artist’s written permission.