The Stó:lō Nation is the political amalgamation of eleven Stó:lō communities. The Stó:lō Service Agency (SSA) is the service delivery arm of Stó:lō Nation. SSA provides services to the Stó:lō and Aboriginal communities throughout S'olh Temexw.
S'olh Temexw is the traditional territory of the Stó:lō people. According to our swxoxwiyam, we have lived here since time immemorial. The Stó:lō traditional territory extends from Yale to Langley, BC.
The SSA aims to ensure the health and social well being within the Stó:lō community through services and programs in the areas of education, human resource development, early childhood education services such as daycare, headstart, and family support, elderly care, social development, health services, a dental office, tourism, and land and research and resource management services.
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Investigating Unmarked Graves at Multiple Sites Associated with Three Former Residential Schools in S'ólh Temexw
Stó:lō Nation Chiefs' Council (SNCC), under the leadership of Chief David Jimmie, President of the SNCC, has launched a broad-based and inclusive initiative to investigate potential unmarked graves and missing children related to three of the former Residential School sites within S'ólh Temexw: the former St. Mary's, Coqualeetza, and All Hallows institutions in Mission, Chilliwack, and Yale. The project team will carry out archival, oral historical, and on-site remote sensing work in search of identifiable unmarked graves. We are also working with local Stó:lō First Nations including Sqwá, Sq'ewqéyl, and Ch'íyáqtel regarding unmarked burials known to have been relocated to each of their cemeteries from the Coqualeetza Grounds. Other major goals of our work are to identify Stó:lō children who were sent to Residential Schools - anywhere - and did not return home; as well as to support the commemoration and memorialization of Residential School Survivors and lost children within the Stó:lō communities and more broadly. For more about this work, please visit www.stolonation.bc.ca/residential-school-project-information
Investigating Unmarked Graves at Multiple Sites Associated with Three Former Residential Schools in the Fraser Valley, S’ólh Téméxw
Following the findings of unmarked graves in former Residential School cemeteries at Tk'emlúps (Kamloops), Penelakut Island (Kuper Island), and elsewhere across Canada, Stó:lō Nation Chiefs’ Council (SNCC), under the leadership of Chief David Jimmie, President of the SNCC, launched a broad-based and inclusive initiative to investigate potential unmarked graves and missing children related to three of the former Residential School sites within S’ólh Téméxw. This initiative includes the former St. Mary’s, Coqualeetza, and All Hallows institutions in Mission, Chilliwack, and Yale, in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. A political Steering Committee with representatives from the SNCC, Stó:lō Tribal Council, and Independent First Nations oversees this work. The Steering Committee includes Chiefs Alice McKay, Alice Thompson, Robert Gladstone, Lara Mussell, David Jimmie, Councilors Chris Silver, Darcy Paul, and Grand Chief Clarence Pennier. The Stó:lō House of Respect Care Taking Committee, which guides repatriation efforts, provides cultural guidance to these efforts. The initiative is being operationalized through the Stó:lō Service Agency Board of Directors. This work is connected to an initiative that is being led by Grand Chief Pennier and the Stó:lō Tribal Council which focuses on residential school survivors and experiences within the Coast Salish communities.
The SRRMC will be providing regular updates to the SNCC leadership, Steering Committee, participating First Nations, and the House of Respect Care Taking Committee. Public communication of outcomes, including commemorative installations such as those recently installed at St. Mary’s and Coqualeetza Grounds, will be addressed by the SNCC and participating First Nations.
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress related to the legacy of Residential Schools.
For inquiries and questions, please contact our project team: firstname.lastname@example.org
First and foremost, the Stó:lō Nation Chief’s Council (SNCC) send our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the families of the 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site. Our leadership and community members are experiencing heavy hearts throughout the territory, the province and across the country. The reprehensible actions of the residential school system have always been deeply felt within our Indigenous communities. Now the rest of the country is beginning to understand just how severely the atrocities committed through residential schools have engrained themselves in our people and the lasting impacts that they have left behind.
Our leadership met to discuss how we can support families, take care of the cultural work and plan for a larger ceremony to honor and recognize those who have passed before us. It is so important to acknowledge that we have family members who are still suffering from the impacts of the residential school system. The SNCC would like to acknowledge all of the important work done by the Stó:lō communities as well as the organizations who work directly with our people.
We would like nothing more than to host a large gathering and help uplift spirits in ceremony, but we are also mindful of the current health restrictions in place, so communities will be hosting individually to keep the participant numbers appropriate and continue to keep our communities safe. Chief Terry Horne has offered to carve two poles that will be located at each of the residential school sites of Coqualeetza and Pekw'xe:yles with a target date of September 30th in recognition of Orange Shirt Day.
The SNCC has provided direction to conduct research aimed at identifying potential grave sites at both former residential school locations in the Fraser Valley, Coqualeetza and St. Mary’s, in Chilliwack (Coqualeetza grounds) and Mission (Pekw'xe:yles reserve; Heritage Park) respectively. We are aware of the tragic history that includes deaths of students at both places and our thoughts go out to their families. Our staff are now conducting research on documented cemeteries and registries of students who died at these schools, as well as assessing the feasibility of using ground penetrating radar to potentially locate unmarked grave sites. All our work is and will continue to be guided by cultural protocol and oversight.
The SNCC supports the First Nation Leadership Council in urging the Prime Minister of Canada to take appropriate leadership action and ensure that comprehensive steps are put into place to establish an effective response and legal framework governing the protection and investigation of the unmarked mass burial site at the former Kamloops Residential School and where needed elsewhere.
Chief David Jimmie
President, Stó:lō Nations Chiefs Council