A pod of orcas joined the 7 Generation Steward Society at the Tyee Spit singing in memorial for the 215 children found in Kamloops. Photo courtesy Cory Cliffe

A pod of orcas joined the 7 Generation Steward Society at the Tyee Spit singing in memorial for the 215 children found in Kamloops. Photo courtesy Cory Cliffe

VIDEO: Whales appear during Indigenous ceremony for 215 children in Campbell River

‘Our ancestors wouldn’t appear if we weren’t doing things in a good way’ — Cory Cliffe

The 7 Generations Steward Society had a surprise during a small ceremony they held last week to commemorate the 215 children found buried at the Kamloops Residential School.

“There was an ceremony downtown, but because it was during the day, a lot of people had to miss it,” said Cory Cliffe, founder of the society. “I talked to the board of directors with 7 Generations Steward Society and we agreed that something needed to happen down at the Spit. It didn’t need to be huge, but something needed to happen.”

The 7 Generation Steward Society was started by Cliffe earlier this year to help build the next generation of Indigenous environmental stewards, providing them with cultural and scientific knowledge to build a sense of ancestral responsibility and environmental protection.

The society organized a group of seven people, five singers and two youth, to hold a small ceremony in memory of those 215 children at Tyee Spit in Campbell River. They were joined by a crowd of people wishing to pay their respects and two Hereditary Chiefs. The singing started with a traditional prayer song, before going into a paddle song.

“Towards the end of the paddle song, somebody in the crowd started making the body motion of the killer whale. We thought that they were just feeling the spirit, but the next thing you know people were pulling out their cameras and going ‘Holy cow, look at that!’ We turned around and there were killer whales coming towards us,” Cliffe said.

“It was a beautiful thing. We went right into a celebration song with a bit of a faster beat and they came in right close to the shoreline and passed right behind us,” he added.

RELATED: Gathering held at Spirit Square to commemorate 215 children

Cliffe said that he had spoken afterwards with some Elders and Chiefs, who requested the story be told, saying: “During the time of the great sickness, seven Kwakwakaʼwakw men stood on the shores of the Laichwiltach and sang praise to 215 children that were taken by residential school. During that time, our ancestors came in the form of the Killer Whale to carry that message across to the spirit world.”

To Cliffe, the ancestors coming in the form of killer whales told him that he and the 7 Generation Steward Society were doing the right thing.

“Naturally, I was really nervous leading up to it and I was kind of wondering ‘am I doing this appropriately?’ Once we’d seen the Killer Whales coming through, personally I felt a feeling of relief because our ancestors wouldn’t appear if we weren’t doing things in a good way,” he said. “That was really inspiring for me to see. It’s really motivational when things like that happen because we know that we’re on the right track to tracking down who we were and representing our people as we are now.”

Cliffe hopes to continue connecting with the community, especially with the possibility of more children being found at residential school site across the country.

“For the next 10 years here in Canada I think that almost monthly we’re going to be going through this same feeling of loss as more of these residential schools are hit with the ground penetrating radar,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of pain. I’m glad that 7 Generation Steward Society had its beginning when it did. There’s going to be a lot of work to do in the community to help people heal. It’s a great opportunity to do some cultural sensitivity training.”

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

RELATED: Klahoose First Nation holds memorial gathering for 215 children

RELATED: Education program to empower Indigenous youth



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverFirst NationsIndigenousLocal NewsOrca

Just Posted

Some algae is visible at the swimming ponds at Millennium Park. Photo: Betsy Kline
City of Castlegar says Millennium Ponds safe, in spite of algae

Water samples are regularly sent to Interior Health

Black Press file photo
City of Castlegar plans to offer dumpster for small amounts of summer garbage

Bear Smart initiative looking to reduce wildlife conflict

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

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

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read