The Penelakut Tribe hosted their third annual ‘March for the Children’ event on Monday.
The march, which honours the 167 unmarked graves discovered using ground penetrating radar, saw more than 300 people attend, including people from the Tribe, the local community and others who travelled from abroad.
Once the march wrapped up, many people sat down at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus to listen to residential school survivors tell their stories of pain and resilience.
Survivor and filmmaker Steve Sxwithultxw was front and centre at the march and said he’s happy the event got a good turnout but knows more needs to be done.
“I think it’s our job is to make sure that our non-Native communities are aware that we are still searching and that there are more of our lost children out there. We need to make people aware that this is still an ongoing issue,” said Sxwithltxw.
Local artist Daniel Elliott also attended and presented a commissioned painting to the Penelakut Tribe. Elliot said he also painted the painting to honour his grandmother, a residential school survivor.
“She escaped from there, and she had a heck of a time with that school. She actually boxed her emotions to raise her family so it actually gave me an opportunity to live my life and to understand what happened and share the stories that happened,” said Elliot.
Organizers of the event hope this will keep survivors’ stories in mind as Canada approaches its third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.