Honouring the Children Found by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

Posted On Thursday June 10, 2021
Students honouring Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc children
Students across the district, including these Arthur Stevenson students, are honouring the 215 children found by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

Students and staff across the Kamloops-Thompson are honouring the 215 children found by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc through presentations, videos, ceremony, wearing orange, writing notes, colouring pictures and tying ribbons to fences (for more pictures, see this photo gallery).

Valleyview Secondary

At Valleyview Secondary the school day was paused on June 3, and all staff and students went through A Day Of Acknowledgement Presentation featuring two Tk-emlúps Te Secwepémc students, Talise Seymour in grade 11 and Skylah Joe-George in grade 12.

“Residential schools were the tip of the iceberg that brought much deeper outcomes,” said Joe-George. “[They] created a domino effect of constant mental and spiritual pain, because when we see the people we love and an entire culture hurting, we can’t help but feel that pain, too.

“It is time to acknowledge the hardships of the past. It is time to acknowledge that residential schools cause pain and that pain is still here.”

“This is just the beginning of society becoming aware of the truth,” said Valleyview Secondary student and young Secwepémc woman Talise Seymour, speaking in Weykt Xexweytep. The YouTube video about Orange Shirt Day was origianlly posted on Sept. 30, 2020 and was featured in the school’s June 3 presentation.

She speaks as the ninth generation of children impacted by residential schools. 

“These schools were not in any way to benefit the children,” Seymour said. “This was a deliberate genocide of the native people… Can you imagine being an Aboriginal parent and knowing your child was stolen to endure such a horrible experience?

“I would like to thank Skylah and Talise not only for their bravery in telling these stories, but also for their incredible leadership during a time when it’s needed most,” said Barb Hamblett, Principal at Valleyview Secondary. “It is only by facing the truth over what has happened over many years in residential schools, and responding with humility and love, that we will be able to heal as a whole society.”

VSS students recorded words of support and hope on blue and orange hearts followed by an invitation to take on an act of reconciliation that is aimed at carrying everyone into a better future.

“The hearts will be assembled by our students and delivered to Tk-emlúps Te Secwépemc soon,” she said. “By request from a number of students, the presentation will also stay on our website so that VSS students can share their learning with their parents. This in itself is a solid step towards a more hopeful future. It is téxemnem-kt, or paddling together.”

Arthur Stevenson Elementary

At Arthur Stevenson, students and staff wore orange every day during the first week in June, with a school wide Orange Shirt Day on June 3. A moment of silence was observed for two minutes and 15 seconds at 2:15 PM on that day, and during morning announcements a quote related to Every Child Matters was read.

Each student coloured a feather and attached it to a page, and these pages were hung on the side of the school. Students tied orange ribbons to the school fence that runs along Westsyde Road, and they drew 215 hearts on the front sidewalk. Other activities have included class discussions, and reading related books.

South Kamloops Secondary

At South Kamloops Secondary, students created 400 cards with messages of healing which were taken to the former Kamloops Residential School and tied to the trees in front of the memorial there. The cards were then taken down and made a part of a sacred fire in memory of the 215 children.

SKSS students also participated in class discussions and projects including the construction of a teepee, singing, drumming and smudges.

CBC - Daybreak Kamloops with Shelley Joyce - this interview about SKSS students' response was aired on CBC radio. 

Logan Lake Elementary / Logan Lake Secondary

Along with a number of projects and class activities, Logan Lake Elementary created 215 orange hands for their Grade 7 Grad celebration. 

Westmount Elementary

Westmount Elementary teacher Barb Primus arranged to have students in the school colour First Nations images, which were then laminated and fastened to the chain link fence on Westsyde Road along with a banner that says "Every Child Matters".  

Pacific Way Elementary

Pacific Way had an Orange Shirt Day on June 2. Each class honoured the children with a variety of activities in the classroom, many of which are now displayed on school windows. Each day's morning announcements were centred around the theme "Every Child Matters."  The school is ordering Orange T-shirts with this theme and logo for the entire school for participation in future Orange Shirt Days, with the proceeds going to the "Every Child Matters" foundation.

Lloyd George Elementary

Lloyd George had Orange Shirt Day on June 2. The grade 7 students decorated the entrance to the school and went outside to pay their respects.

Marion Schilling Elementary

At Marion Schilling, students created 'Feathers of Thought' in honour, respect, and acknowledgement. Grade 6/7s wanted to recognize that 'Every Child Matters' by making a beautiful, colourful feather to represent each of the 215 children that were lost. 

The Marion Schilling Elementary Aboriginal Education Worker and Sucwepemctsin Language Teacher lead a healing circle and a smudging on Monday, May 31, during which they blessed the children and the school.

David Thompson Elementary

Every one of the 225 students of David Thompson Elementary left an orange handprint on one outside wall of their school. Orange clothing was encouraged throughout the week with June 2 as the main day of recognition. Orange ribbons were made by the grade 7 students for the students without orange clothing. On June 2, teachers shared information and resources about residential schools along with the music video made by Sk'elep in 2017 with N'we Jinan.

Chase Secondary

Chase Secondary staff and students held a school-wide smudge on their field to honour the 215 children. The smudge was led by Secwepemctsin Language Teacher Ivy Chelsea, Aboriginal Education Worker Gord Cuthbert and Aboriginal Family Counsellor Peter Michel.

Dufferin Elementary

Dufferin Elementary held an Orange Shirt Day, and then students tied an orange ribbon on the school's front fence. Classes also coloured orange shirts, hands and feathers to put up in various areas of the school. 

R.L. Clemitson Elementary

Students shared their thinking during a school-wide activity and discussion that took place during the week of May 31. Staff and students wore orange on May 31 and June 4, and students wrote messages of support and solidarity on orange ribbons which were then displayed on the chain link fence along Todd Road. 

Bert Edwards Science and Technology Elementary

Each student designed and decorated a feather in memory and then created a beautiful bulletin board with more that 215 feathers that said "We remember every child."   

“We also gently spoke about the news in our daily announcements during the week of May 31 – June 4, all staff and many students wore orange for the entire week, and we encouraged our whole school to wear orange last Friday,” said Jennifer Boyle, Vice-Principal at BEST.

“Most teachers have been reading stories and using the resources provided by the district and others, to compassionately talk about, answer questions, and learn about the tragedy, reconciliation, and what we can do as a nation to ensure that we move forward with love and better understanding in our classrooms.”

There are school and classroom displays and decorated windows throughout the school, and one class made beaded headdresses.

Juniper Ridge Elementary
Students have posted orange feathers on the school fence, the school held a moment of silence, and an Orange Shirt Day was held on June 1.  Teachers and students are having discussions about residential schools through reading, using talking circles, and participating in nature walks to learn about traditional medicines and plants. Students have created sage tiles that will be taken to the memorial at the former Kamloops Residential School. 
"This is work that our school has committed to until the end of the school year," said Andrea Mangell, Vice Principal at Juniper Ridge. 
South Sa-Hali Elementary
In addition to creating artwork  and posting a heartfelt message, 'We believe you. We care. We are beginning to understand,' South Sa-Hali Elementary students held a walk during their Orange Shirt Day. 

Barriere Elementary

'We are holding space for you' is the message posted in the window at Barriere Elementary. 

Kamloops School of the Arts

June 4 was Orange Shirt Day at Kamllops School of the Arts, and staff are wearing orange ribbons. students read about the origins of the day, created artwork inspired by BC Artist Michelle Stoney and watched an interview with a residential school survivor. 

Brocklehurst Middle School

Brocklehurst Middle School teachers shared a common lesson created by Aboriginal Education Teacher, Brenda Celesta, and each class created a set of feet and paddles. The feet are in recognition of the children and paddles are created as a show of support and recognition of the tragedy. 


Related Articles:

Teacher Adding Blue Hearts to Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day: Why Blue Hearts are Important




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