A new Orange Shirt Banner Project was unveiled in Williams Lake on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
The banner — with the words Every Child Matters and the number 215 — will hang across the entrance to the city’s downtown on Oliver Street from June 21 to July 26 and again from Sept. 6 to 30.
Dressed in regalia, cultural advisor and former Canim Lake chief Mike Archie blessed the banner as staff and children from Williams Lake First Nation’s Little Chiefs Primary School drummed and sang in Herb Gardner Park directly below city hall.
“We are here to bless this gorgeous banner that has been put forward in partnership with the city of Williams Lake and the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council,” said WLFN chief Willie Sellars. “As we bless this banner and we start this Indigenous Peoples Day in the right way.”
Bringing back culture and tradition will help First Nations people in their healing journey and help bring non-First Nations and First Nations people together in a powerful way, he added.
“We have a long road ahead of us and the 215 were lost and now found reminded us just how important it is to bring back our ceremony, our language and our culture,” Sellars said.
Representing the city, Coun. Jason Ryll said National Indigenous Peoples Day is very important.
“It falls in line with our relationship building with our First Nations neighbours,” Ryll said of the banner project.
Additionally, on Tuesday, June 22, the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council will be appearing before Williams Lake city council in support of a request for a $7,500 in-kind donation to make the lampposts available in the downtown core for orange flags to be displayed as a sign of solidarity and reconciliation.
The cost for design and production of the banners and lamppost flags is funded by Heritage Canada.