Most important thing the community can do is honour the children

By James Rose
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There has been a swift, heartfelt community response to last week’s shocking news, the bodies of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

On Sunday, May 30, Suzie Thomas invited family, friends and the community to place hearts on her fence down Papilo Way two kilometres north of  Tim Hortons. “(Our family) decided to invite the community to help us honour those children and residential school survivors by putting up 215 hearts,” said Thomas, Youth and Community Coordinator at the Shuswap Indian Band. “Some of the hearts have little blurbs on them like ‘Never forgotten’ and ‘Every child matters’, that sort of thing.”

On Monday, May 31, students and staff at J.A. Laird Elementary school wore orange shirts to honour the lives of the children, residential school survivors and intergenerational victims. Across the valley, teddy bears were exhibited on porches as another act of compassion and respect.

“The most important thing the community can do is honour these children and support the Métis Nation, Shuswap Indian band, and Akisqnuk First Nation,” said Deb Fisher, Kootenay regional director at the Métis Nation of B.C. “We all need to do our part to hold accountable those involved allowing these situations to occur.”

On the popular Invermere Community Share Facebook page, people shared links to donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

“When I heard the news, I was immediately in shock,” said Thomas. “I sat downed and had a tough conversation with my two children (age 10 and 14) explaining to them the situation and that their grandmother went to the St. Eugene Mission Residential School.”

Thomas and Fisher both share a similar sentiment that it will take time to process. “But what’s important is to make sure those children are well respected and laid to rest peacefully. The families must get honoured properly. Visit to donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.