Haisla Nation members and Kitimat residents gathered together at Centennial Park, July 1, to honour survivors of residential schools and remember the children who did not return home. (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Haisla Nation members and Kitimat residents gathered together at Centennial Park, July 1, to honour survivors of residential schools and remember the children who did not return home. (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Kitimat Canada Day celebrations scaled back following horrific residential school discoveries

Ceremonies began at the Riverlodge Recreational sports fields, for the ECM soccer tournament

With celebrations scaled back Canada Day, Kitimat residents and Haisla Nation community members joined together to honour survivors of residential schools and remember the Indigenous children who did not return home. 

Ceremonies began at the Riverlodge Recreational sports fields, for the Every Child Matters (ECM) soccer tournament, with blessings from hereditary Haisla chiefs, the Haisla Braid singers and dancers, and speeches from Haisla Nation members affected by the residential schools, as well as prominent community members.

“This year many of us who usually celebrate will be reflecting on the tragic aspects and horrible injustices that are part of Canada’s story. […] Like many other Canadians, I am grappling with the atrocities of colonialism and residential schools and what it has meant for those who’ve experienced the impacts. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have suffered and are suffering those injustices,” Mayor Phil Germuth said in a speech at the opening ceremonies for the soccer tournament.

After the ECM opening ceremonies, Haisla Nation members and Kitimat residents gathered at Centennial Park and continued to honour and remembers those impacted by Canada’s residential schools. At the gathering, speeches from Haisla members like Dolores Pollard, Teresa Windsor were made, as well as performances by Haisla Braid singers.

Earlier this month, Haisla Nation also made a statement on their website about the 751 unmarked graves that were discovered at the former Indian residential school on the territory of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. The statement emphasized how Indigenous people are facing an emotional time and that the country should take what has been learned to build a path forward.

“While now is a time for reflection and mourning, we can begin to take solace in the fact that there has been such an outpouring of support and sympathy, not just within Indigenous communities but from countless non-Indigenous allies who are understanding of this dark stain on the country’s history, and who are committed to a positive future,” Haisla Nation chief councillor Crystal Smith.

READ MORE: Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School



jacob.lubberts@northernsentinel.com

 

Luca Webb, 2, who is of Nisga’a descent, alongside the Haisla Braid singers and dancers during the gathering at Centeninial park, on July 1. (Ayla Thompson photo)

Luca Webb, 2, who is of Nisga’a descent, alongside the Haisla Braid singers and dancers during the gathering at Centeninial park, on July 1. (Ayla Thompson photo)

Haisla Nation members and Kitimat residents gathered together during the opening ceremonies for the Every Child Matters soccer tournament, on July 1. (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Haisla Nation members and Kitimat residents gathered together during the opening ceremonies for the Every Child Matters soccer tournament, on July 1. (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Haisla Braid Singers performing at the gathering of Haisla Nation Members and Kitimat residents in Centennial Park, in honour of survivors of residential schools and to remember those children who did not return. (Ayla Thompson photo)

Haisla Braid Singers performing at the gathering of Haisla Nation Members and Kitimat residents in Centennial Park, in honour of survivors of residential schools and to remember those children who did not return. (Ayla Thompson photo)

(Ayla Thompson photo)

(Ayla Thompson photo)

Haisla Nation Hereditary Chiefs watching the Haisla Braid singers and dancers at the opening ceremonies for the Every Child Matters soccer tournament. (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Haisla Nation Hereditary Chiefs watching the Haisla Braid singers and dancers at the opening ceremonies for the Every Child Matters soccer tournament. (Jacob Lubberts photo)