Ladysmith paints crosswalk to honour residential school survivors


John Elliott’s face lit up Monday as the Chief of the Stz’uminus First Nation watched his granddaughter paint and raise a feather in honour of Every Child Matters.

Her orange uniquely painted wooden feather would join the art-covered feathers of 1200 students from Ladysmith and Stzu’minus schools, which are being hung in downtown Ladysmith trees ahead of Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30.

“Everybody is doing their role now to make sure that we don’t forget,” Stz’uminus Chief Councillor John Elliott told CHEK News.

Ladysmith is taking it a step further.

On Monday, the town unveiled a new crosswalk to honour survivors and Orange Shirt Day on 1st Avenue, parallel to a new memorial crosswalk dedicated to Canadian Veterans.

The bright new pops of colour on the pavement are designed to bring this community together.

“And to have something like this with the orange feathers to recognize every child matters, it’s a very beautiful way of educating people,” said Mandy Jones, a Stz’uminus member and an educator at Ladysmith Secondary School.

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Jones is thinking of how proud her late husband Andrew, a survivor of residential schools, would be to see the crosswalk in the town he loved.

“They went through hard times, and for them to see (this). The educating here is very important,” said Jones.

“It’s just an honour. I think we’re growing together,” said Elliott.

“It makes me want to cry too, but I really am so proud of our community,” said Kathy Holmes, who helped organize the project as a Ladysmith Arts Council member.

“I think it’s the best. Really is the best thing,” said Steen Hjort, a Ladysmith resident who cut all 1200 feathers out of wood.

The crosswalks are now open to motorists and pedestrians on Ladysmith’s busiest downtown road.

“It makes it really accessible to people. They see the beauty, and if they can ask what they mean, then it just makes a better community for all of us,” said Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone.

“I think it’s beautiful that you are seeing us in our strength because we’ve been pushed down for so long,” said Brenda Kohlruss, a Stz’uminus member and an educator at Ladysmith Secondary School.

As the Island community shows its true colours and walks the talk of reconciliation ahead of Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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