Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian responded to the discovery of the remains of more than 200 Indigenous children at the former site of a Kamloops residential school Friday, May 28, 2021. (Splatsin photo)

Survivor support needed in wake of ‘unimaginable’ mass burial discovery: Splatsin chief

“It really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need,” Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian said

“If there are stories to be told, let people talk.”

That was part of Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian’s message after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the former site of a Kamloops residential school.

The discovery is a stark reminder that the residential school system in Canada was in place as recently as 1996, and that while many of its survivors are living in First Nations across the country, many others did not survive.

On Thursday the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said new technology allowed for the discovery of the burial site, and forensic experts are continuing work to identify the individual children.

That work could eventually lead to the repatriation of those children to their communities and families, but right now, Kukpi7 Christian says it’s time to offer support to those in the community still reeling from the “unimaginable and horrific” news.

“For those of you who went to the residential school and are survivors, I want to really ask you to think about the support you may need,” he said in a video shared with the public Friday.

“Because it really is about you — you survived that horror, and it’s important that you get what you need. And I know that many people (have) parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles or siblings that attended this school, or what they called a school.”

Some may want words of encouragement; others may want to tell their own story.

“Let them let it out, because a lot of people still won’t talk about the horrors that took place here. A lot of people were not believed that there were actually burials at this place,” Christian said. “This confirms what our people have always said.”

The Splatsin chief said news of the discovery “knocked me off my stride for a while,” and he’s still reeling. He said it’s hard to explain the anger chiefs are feeling right now.

“(We) want to hold the governments accountable, but also the church, for what happened to the little ones.”

Christian has been working with other chiefs to organize a ceremony within the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc first, and then to all First Nations.

The band is also working around the challenge of coming together in mourning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get our people together physically, to mourn the death of these 215 babies,” Christian said.

“We’re in the midst of COVID and it makes it even more difficult because we’re trying to find out, how do we do this? And I’m sure that a lot of communities haven’t had our second vaccination yet … so we’re trying to accelerate that process.”

READ MORE: Remains of 215 children found at former residential school in Kamloops

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band ‘shocked and sickened’ by discovery at Kamloops Residential School


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

First Nationsresidential schools

Just Posted

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

Police dog Obi assisted in an arrest Tuesday night after a man reportedly damaged a Victoria restaurant with a large steel beam. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Police dog called in after Victoria restaurant damaged with steel beam

Suspect reportedly entered restaurant and started damaging walls

Police dog Hitch helped arrest a man who had reportedly threatened the security guards of a Victoria shopping centre with a knife on June 15. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man with knife arrested after reportedly threatening Bay Centre security guards

The K9 unit’s police dog, Hitch, was deployed to assist with the arrest

GardenWorks nursery in Oak Bay at its home until August. (Black Press Media file photo)
GardenWorks puts down new roots in Oak Bay this summer

Nursery shifts down The Avenue to fill former fitness studio space

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New residential school healing centre to be built near Duncan

$5-million Indigenous treatment centre will help survivors of residential schools heal

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read