With the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School, Valemount Schools would like to recognize and honour these lost lives.

We are working with a local Elder, who had family members attend the Kamloops Residential School, and are looking for community support.

On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, we are asking anyone interested in participating, to place a pair of shoes in memory of a lost life on the front lawn of Valemount Secondary High School. Please have your shoes in place by 8:30am and please collect them again at 5:00pm.

Letter from an elder:

As an Aboriginal Elder, I have been deeply shaken by the discovery of the 215 dead Aboriginal children at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. My mother was a resident there for a short time. I know that not only myself but the rest of our nation have been greatly disturbed as well, both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal equally. This horrible crime has the potential to split our nation and even our community of Valemount: divide us, shame us and blame us. I realize that for First Nation Peoples to heal, we need time to grieve, forgive and heal. We will never condone nor forget the murder of our children yet we do not want to continue to blame Canadians that were not part of this genocide. We don’t want to leave a legacy of bitterness and hatred toward our fellow man. Personally, I offer forgiveness to those who committed these terrible atrocities. I can’t carry a burden of unforgiveness for the rest of my life.

I am asking you as friends and neighbours to stand with us in our time of unspeakable grief and shock, to give us room and time to heal, forgive and grieve in our own way. This must be treated with respect and dignity but most of all, with forgiveness.

I am asking you, on Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2021, come to the Valemount Secondary School and place a pair of shoes In memory of a child, his or her parents, the grandparents, the aunties and uncles, and the siblings. We need to know that you are supporting us. We will find a way to walk through this with respect, honour and dignity.

I am deeply grateful for the swift and thoughtful help from our local schools and the Aboriginal education workers. I am thankful for the community of Valemount who have already shown a commitment to do something meaningful.

Thank You and Blessings,
Irene Blackman

If you have any questions please contact either school.
Thank you for your support.
Sherry Nicholas, IEW Valemount Secondary (250-566-4431)
Cheri Dehnke, IEW Valemount Elementary (250-566-4427)
Derrick Shaw, Principal Valemount Secondary
Karen Shaw, Acting Principal Valemount Elementary
Pamela Spooner, Director of Instruction, Indigenous Education