Thursday, September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

Islanders invited to Aug. 7th March for the Children


In 2021 news of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops Residential School generated widespread shock and soul-searching within non-Indigenous Canadian society.

In First Nations communities the repercussions were profound: while the disappearance and deaths of children at the schools was no secret, the media focus triggered traumatic memories for many who had attended the schools, opening old wounds and heartbreak for the families and communities whose children never came home. 

On Penelakut Island, just north of Salt Spring, the Sulxwe’en (Elders Group) of the Penelakut Tribe decided to release preliminary findings of 160 unmarked graves associated with the Kuper Island Industrial School, which was operated by the Catholic Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate from 1889 to 1975.

They decided the time was ripe to reach out to the wider society, envisioning a memorial walk through the town of Chemainus to begin the process of healing and reconciliation for survivors and tribal members as well as friends and supporters.

For the first March for the Children, over 1,500 people arrived from up and down Vancouver Island, from Salt Spring and beyond, filling the streets of the village and gathering at Waterwheel Park to hear songs, prayers and testimonials from survivors of the school. It was a powerful event, truly a day to remember. The Penelakut organizers were visibly moved by the overwhelming response.

It felt good, too, that many Salt Spring Islanders were present that day, continuing connections between our island communities dating back to the fight to protect the ancient burial ground at S’yuhuye’men (Walkers Hook) when a fish farm was set up there.

This year, the Penelakut Tribe has invited us back for the Third Annual March for the Children, to take place Monday, Aug. 7 in the village of Sunuwnets (Chemainus). Gather at 9 a.m. at the Salish Sea Market next to the ferry terminal, winding up the hill to a gathering at Waterwheel Park.

Please consider attending. Carpooling: if you have room in your car, or for a ride, contact Tom at


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