Kwakiutl First Nation master carver Stan Hunt’s 18-foot monument in remembrance of all the Indigenous children who were abused, murdered, and died while attending residential schools has taken shape and is nearly ready to be painted.
“We’re in the planning stages now of how this will roll out to the public, and we’re working with several people from the private industry, as well as with support from the Canadian Coast Guard and other government agencies,” Hunt said.
“We’re working on a communication strategy to get the word out to tell the story, and we’re planning the logistics of the tour and visiting key areas for the monument to stop for families that have been affected by residential schools.”
Based in Fort Rupert on northern Vancouver Island, Hunt confirmed the monument will be traveling a long distances before settling in at an as-yet-undisclosed permanent location.
“(It will be) moved about the 18th of June so it will be in Victoria June 21 for National Aboriginal Day, and then we want to be in our destination on Sept. 30 for Truth and Reconciliation Day, where it will be unloaded and then placed where it should be.”
The 18-foot tall, four-feet in diameter monument features a giant raven on top of it that has the seed of life in its beak, and there are traditionally carved children’s faces going all the way to the bottom. The monument will only have two stark colours, black and orange.
Hunt noted the raven holds special meaning to Indigenous people.
“It’s our creator, and this raven is on top of these children because he’s asking for these children’s spirits to come home – they belong at home and they need to be found.”
Hunt said he is hopeful that all of the children’s remains are not just found, but that they’re all able to be named as well.
“They have to have names,” he said, his voice breaking as he pointed out there should be a special memorial park created for all of the Indigenous lives that were lost.
Above all else, Hunt wants everyone to know that this monument will “tell the truth about what happened, and as soon as you get to see it when it’s finished, you’ll recognize what it’s for … This is for the residential school kids.”
– with file from Megyn Williams