More than 250 people marched through Enderby and Splatsin Monday morning wearing orange to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day and pay tribute to the 215 residential school victims in Kamloops.
The event was a tribute following the discovery of the unmarked burial sites in Kamloops.
Lyndsey Leon whose grandmother survived residential school organized the march.
“When the 215 children were found I felt like we need to create more awareness,” said Leon.
“There are 139 residential schools in Canada so I feel like we need to create more awareness so that we can get the rest of those schools searched.”
The march began at 10 a.m. at the Enderby Visitor’s Centre and twisted through the streets near the community centre, where there were speeches, singing and drumming.
The turnout was larger than organizers had expected.
Splatsin Chief Wayne Christian told the crowd the children discovered at the Kamloops school had exposed the truth in a way Canadians understood.
“You didn’t believe our survivors but you believed those little children. You understand what that means if that little one was taken from you and was buried someplace and you would never know they were missing. You know in your heart what that would feel like. That is what we are feeling: that pain, that grief, that loss,” Christian said.
Christian thanked the crowd for their support but urged people to turn their anger into action.
“Do something with it and help our people be recognized and acknowledged for the true history of this country,” he said.
The march is one of four events being held to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day being held by the Splatsin who are the southernmost tribe of the Secwépemc Nation.
The kick-off celebration took place on June 20 at 5 p.m. On June 21, Splatsin community members are invited to the Splatsin Community Camp from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Pillar Lake.
There will also be a healing workshop offered to community members with Melanie Lansall, focused on fun self-care and self-reflection exercises online from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information about the events and to RSVP visit www.splatsin.ca/national-indigenous-peoples-day-2021-activities