A sacred fire will burn in the community of Sugar Cane for four days and four nights starting June 2 at 5 p.m. as Indigenous communities such as Williams Lake First Nation, and those across the country, try to come to grips with the finding of the remains of 215 Indigenous children found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Secwepemc WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said anyone is welcome to come to the fire as needed for drumming, prayers, support and healing. A closed ceremony is also being planned for cultural leaders from across the nations to attend at the site of the St. Joseph’s Mission, a former residential school just six kilometres from WLFN.
The event will be kept small with security, as requested by the Elders, Sellars noted. That ceremony is intended to let the ancestors know that they will be proceeding with an investigation similar to the one in Kamloops at St. Joseph’s Mission.
Sellars himself, who has been in close contact with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir since the news broke, has expressed feeling heavy-hearted and, at times, angry about the findings at Kamloops.
He, along with cultural leaders such as David Archie, held a ceremony Friday evening (May 28) where leaders spoke of the trauma of residential schools, the need to support one another and the path forward.
“We’ve all felt the impacts of residential schools in our communities whether it’s direct descendants or survivors or those that have passed on, those suffering from inter-generational trauma. We start talking about reconciliation and how that’s going to be achieved, we always say that’s going to be generations from now,” Sellars told those in attendance. “There’s a lot of these unwritten stories that we continue to hear throughout our communities and one of those stories has come to light at KIB (Kamloops Indian Band). It’s going to cause a reawakening of our warrior spirits. It’s going to start us on our healing journey 2.0 so that we can finally achieve reconciliation throughout every single one of our communities.”
Sellars, who is the spokesperson for the WLFN council, confirmed Wednesday (June 2) preparations are underway to identify areas around St. Joseph’s Mission and investigate using the latest technology.
“Right now we don’t know what we have out there,” he said, noting everybody is holding each other up through this difficult time.
“It’s not just one community that’s shouldering the load, it’s all of us who are going to have to do that in order to heal.”