As the Residential School tragedy continues to unfold across the country, Tsawwassen First Nation reached out to its neighbouring community for the first time on Thursday morning to join them in their grieving process.
An estimated 200 people of all ages participated in a memorial march on the streets that surround TFN’s Tsawwassen Mills Shopping Mall.
TFN members welcomed the community with a ceremony of prayers and songs, outside the gates to TFN’s long-established residential area and administrative buildings, before the march proceeded.
TFN Chief Ken Baird thanked the participants for their support and invited them back to the TFN recreational centre to join members for a barbecue lunch that included salmon and hamburgers.
The march not only took place on what is a somber Canada Day for many but when COVID-19 health restrictions were eased further across the province.
“It’s just the way things worked out. A bunch of people have come here to support us and it just seemed fitting to invite them,” said Baird. “We have been separated for so long with the COVID thing and we will be for a little longer. This is a good way to re-enter our communities together.”
Since 215 unmarked graves were discovered early last month at the former Kamloops Residential School, more have been found at other locations across the country, including 751 in Cowessess, Saskatchewan and another 182 in Cranbrook this past week. The total now stands at 1,505 and will continue grow in the weeks and months ahead.
“It means a lot to us to see this support with everything that is going on,” added Baird. “Of course, we are devastated with the news. I knew this is just the beginning of what’s going to be a long road.
“It’s been tough on some band members more than others. The newer generation is still learning. With the older generation, it opens up wounds for everybody.”