Local Indigenous leaders participate in a healing ceremony at Mungo Martin House in Victoria on May 31 for the 215 children whose remains were found near a former residential school in Kamloops last week. A new campaign launched Tuesday by Indigenous leaders to search former residential schools on Vancouver Island themselves has already surpassed its fundraising goal. (Black Press Media file photo)

Local Indigenous leaders participate in a healing ceremony at Mungo Martin House in Victoria on May 31 for the 215 children whose remains were found near a former residential school in Kamloops last week. A new campaign launched Tuesday by Indigenous leaders to search former residential schools on Vancouver Island themselves has already surpassed its fundraising goal. (Black Press Media file photo)

GoFundMe to probe more B.C. residential school sites raises $77,000 in two days

Indigenous campaign to finance use of ground-penetrating radar technology

Editor’s note: This article contains details about experiences at residential schools in B.C. and may be upsetting to readers.

Three prominent Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders are raising funds to search the Island’s five residential schools with the same technology used to discover the mass grave site in Kamloops last week.

Tired of waiting on the federal government to take action, filmmaker and journalist Steve Sxwithul’txw, renowned carver Tom LaFortune and educator and producer Michelle Mundy launched a GoFundMe campaign Tuesday to purchase their own searching technology. As of late Thursday morning, the fundraiser has raised more than $$77,000, surpassing its original goal of $25,000.

This is the amount Sxwithul’txw estimates they will need to buy one ground-penetrating radar unit. The units consist of a small antenna shaped like a box, which is dragged along the surface of the ground while sending a signal into the soil. If the soil has been disturbed, as it would have been to dig graves, the unit’s signal will change.

READ ALSO: Residential school survivor calling for Canada-wide search of sites after remains of 215 children found

Steve Sxwithul’txw is a journalist, filmmaker and residential school survivor. (Black Press Media file photo)

“It’s about helping our ancestors,” said Sxwithul’txw, a survivor of the Kuper Island Residential School. “They have been pushed aside in unmarked graves in places they never wanted to go to in the first place. It’s heartbreaking.”

On Tuesday, former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Murray Sinclair issued a statement saying that more mass grave sites will be found.

“Survivors talked about children who suddenly went missing. Some talked about children who went missing into mass burial sites. Some survivors talked about infants who were born to young girls at the residential schools, infants who had been fathered by priests, were taken away from them and deliberately killed – sometimes thrown into furnaces, we were told,” he said.

For Sxwithul’txw, the next step is engaging with the different First Nations where the residential school properties are located.

“The focus for us is on getting these young children back where they belong,” he said.

READ ALSO: Gitksan grandmother says Canadians need to face the whole truth about residential schools

Despite the renewed pain and anger of the last week, Sxwithul’txw said he’s feeling hopeful. Based on the messages he has received, he believes many of the GoFundMe donations have come from non-Indigenous people who want to do something to help.

“I think these next couple of years are going to be country changing,” he said. “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.”

Sxwithul’txw said he’s talking with a number of experts, figuring out how they can go about their search, and that he’ll be updating donors along the way. On Vancouver Island, there are 202 children known to have died at five residential schools, although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates the number is actually far higher. These are their names.

Kuper Island Residential School – Penelakut Island (1890-1975)

Adelina Paul

Adeline Celestine Jones

Alfred William

Allen Jameson

Aloysius Daniel

Aloysius Wilson

Amanda Frenchie

Amanda James

Amos Johnson

Andrew Joseph

Angus Crocker

Anna Amie

Annie Pappenburger

Annie Tommy

August Jimmy

August Tseleokanum

Belinda Marie Jack

Bernadette Thomas

Beverly Joseph

Bob Pierre

Caroline Felix

Caroline Jacob

Caroline Williams

Catherine Jacob

Catherine Johnny

Catherine Tom

Celina Thomas

Charlie Bob

Christine Harry

Clothilda Willie

Cosmas Ya-Epoutle

Delphina Theoqualt

Donalda Philip

Eddie Bob

Edgar Basil

Eline Frenchie

Eliza Louis

Eliza Page

Elizabeth Smith

Ellen Casimir

Ellen Moses

Elmer Hardy

Emile Keith

Emily Peter

Emma Williams

Etienne Harry

Eva Hall

Everest Alex George

Felix Antoine

Francois Johnny

Frank Johnny

George Baptist

George George

George Moses (Kuper Island)

Harold Araneda

Harry Johnny

Henry Johnny

Henry Willie

Herbert Gabourie

Ida Tom

Jasper Mitchell

Jeannen Joe

Jim Baptist

Joe Edwards

John Baptist Jim

Johnny Jack

Joseph Basil

Joseph Jacob

Josephine Jacob

Josephine Norris

Jules Tseleskampten

Lena Ruben

Lilly Leo Charlie

Lizzie Johnny

Lizzie Joseph Edward

Louisa Williams

Lucy O’Sheam

Lucy Peter Norris

Mabel Moses

Maggie Bob

Margaret Louis

Maria Mclean

Marie Thorne

Martha Phillip

Mary Agnes Johnston

Mary Josie Siah

Mildred James

Modest Kosteinagant

Moise Jim

Nelson Sophy

Norma Pauline Frank

Norman Clarence Aleck

P. Williams (Kuper Island)

Patricia Marilyn Joseph

Patrick Joe

Peter Siah

Philip Jack

Pierre Bob

Raymond A. Brown

Richard Thomas

Rosalie Moses

Rosalina Johnny

Rosy Michael David

Samuel Anghame

Samuel Whonock

Simon Gontek

Simon Tom

Sophie Baptist

Sophie Casimir

Sophie Joseph

Stanley Frank

Stanley Paul

Theophane Johnny

Thomas Jim

Tommy Aleck

Vera Underwood

Verneda David

Veronica Classetow Canute

William Jones

William Peter

Willie Henry

St. Michaels Residential School – Alert Bay (1894 -1974)

Andrea Helen Alfred

Alfred McKay

Douglas Benson

Eva George

George L. Humchitt

Jackie Archie James

Lucy Gordon

Molly Irene Moon

Mona

Reggie Allan

Samson Edgar

Samson Harris

Sophia Edgar

Thomas Mason

May Nysok

Christie Residential School – Tofino/Meares Island (1900 -1983)

Adolph Maurus

Agnes Amos

Alice George

Anderson Sye

Andrew Tom

Catherine Marshall

Cecil Williams

Clara Andrew

Dolores George

George Johnson

James Louie George

Jessie Lucas

Joan Manson

Joseph Ignace

Lawrence Thompson

Lorena Thomas

Mary Vincent

Moses Tom

Pearl Michael

Rose Johnson

Samson Mclean

Stanley Joseph

Thomas Campbell

Alberni Residential School – Port Alberni (1900 -1973)

Annie Jack

Bertha Fred

Cyril Mussel

Dalton Silver

David Thomas

Edward Thompson

Gary Hopkins

Gary James Hopkins

Gary Ross

Gerald Wilson

Herb Robert Green

Ivan Wilson

Jack Williams

Katie Taylor

Lily Peal Smith

Maisie Shaw

Mary Bob

Mary Elaine George

Mary Taylor

Maud Jackson

Mitchell Joseph

Nellie Kiutesi

Norman Bob

Ramona Taylor

Shirley Leslie Williams

Taylor Santo

Theodore Mckay

Violet McKay

Virginia Moses

Yinnito Taylor

Ahousaht Residential School – Ahousaht Island (1904 -1940)

Arthur

Bella Peter

Carrie George

Dora Noshkepy

Edward Arnold

Emil Howard

Frank Ubaldus

George Quisot

Katie Manulth

May Harris

Sophie Noothlenu

Tillian Mckay

William Maquina

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

Residential school survivors who need support can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

With files from The Canadian Press


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

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

Greater VictoriaIndigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

(double-click to edit)
Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

In mid-May, Daryl Jolly developed a chest cough and started feeling fatigued.… Continue reading

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

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

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read