A fundraiser intended to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential school for children’s remains topped $100,000 Friday (June 4). Pictured is a church at Chawathil First Nation on Highway 1, on May 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

A fundraiser intended to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential school for children’s remains topped $100,000 Friday (June 4). Pictured is a church at Chawathil First Nation on Highway 1, on May 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

Fundraiser to search more B.C. residential schools tops $100,000

Indigenous leaders hope to use radar technology to search for lost children on Vancouver Island

A fundraiser created to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential schools for the remains of lost Indigenous children has more than quadrupled its original goal.

Started Tuesday (June 1) by local Indigenous leaders Steve Sxwithul’txw, Tom LaFortune and Michelle Mundy, the fund aimed to raise $25,000 to purchase one ground-penetrating radar unit such as the one used to find the mass grave of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised over $100,000.

“It just gives us the ability to purchase more of those units,” Sxwithul’txw told Black Press Media.

The equipment sends signals into the soil and can detect if it has been disturbed, as it would have been to dig graves.

READ ALSO: Remains of 215 children found at former B.C. residential school an ‘unthinkable loss’

Sxwithul’txw said he has found a lot of anger, hurt and sorrow in those who have posted comments on the GoFundMe page.

One person wrote: “I am Aboriginal. My entire life I was teased, mocked and treated differently because of who I am and where I come from. It disgusts me that Canada’s government and many people are still treated poorly because of our heritage.”

Wrote another: “As a mother of three Metis (Cree), my children would have been taken, tortured and/or killed. This is for all the babies and children burned, killed or tortured and the ripple of pain of blood memories. Reconciliation is here and voice are no longer silenced! We hear your little ones … gone but never forgotten.”

Sxwithul’txw said he was heartened to see many other donor comments came from people who appeared to be non-Indigenous and were expressing their allyship. Comments include apologies, sympathy and calls to do better.

In an earlier interview, Sxwithul’txw said he thinks the next couple of years are going to be “country changing.”

READ ALSO: Indigenous leaders want Vancouver Island residential schools searched for victims

“I think we’re seeing the cusp of something much, much bigger and the realization that Canada has failed First Nations in more than one way – they’ve taken our lives,” he said.

Right now, Sxwithul’txw, LaFortune and Mundy are talking with First Nations from around the Island to respect their wishes and determine if and how they can search the residential school sites.

The fundraiser, called Find Our Lost Children, can be found at gofundme.com.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Sooke School District responds to heartbreak of residential schools with learning opportunities


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Greater VictoriaIndigenousresidential schoolsvancouverisland

Just Posted

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Most Read