Thousands march in honour of residential school children found in unmarked graves

Thousands march in honour of residential school children found in unmarked graves

Thousands on Vancouver Island spent B.C. Day marching in honour of residential school survivors and victims.

On Monday morning, a crowd of over a hundred people marched from the Tsawout First Nation in Saanichton to the Patricia Bay Highway.

It was all part of a planned event called Walk for the Children — a healing walk held to honour residential school children who never made it home, survivors, and those who continue to educate their younger generations.

“This march is to show our children that we still have to fight, we still have to stand and teach the ways of our people, of our elders,” says Patrick Leon, a resident of Tsawout First Nation.

The crowd of more than 200 shut down the Patricia Bay Highway for an hour, with not a single car in sight on an otherwise busy holiday Monday.

“Closing the highway for one hour of people’s time is just a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of years of suffering our people went through,” says Tracy Underwood, a WSANEC Matriarch.

The march was held in solidarity with a similar event that took place in Chemainus this morning.

Organized by the Penelakut Tribe, thousands marched together in honour of the 160 unmarked graves that were uncovered at the former Kuper Island Residential School, which was in operation from 1890 until 1975. About 120 students are listed as having died there.

“Today is our way of healing and sending healing energy to Penelakut First Nations, and for my children and grandchildren to be here, and for everyone to know that we all are hurting, but to let everyone know that we’re still here,” says Underwood.

“It’s time to come together as First Nations people again, start to come together as one big family and keep on teaching our kids,” added Leon.

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