Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Several First Nations communities joined and supported the Adams Lake band in the Walking Our Spirits Home event June 11 to 13, which honoured residential school survivors, those who didn’t return home and all those affected by the institutions. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Several First Nations communities joined and supported the Adams Lake band in the Walking Our Spirits Home event June 11 to 13, which honoured residential school survivors, those who didn’t return home and all those affected by the institutions. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
The strength of the Secwépemc people was evident as survivors of the Kamloops residential school and other such institutions took part in the Walking Our Spirits Home procession June 11 to 13 with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)The strength of the Secwépemc people was evident as survivors of the Kamloops residential school and other such institutions took part in the Walking Our Spirits Home procession June 11 to 13 with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
First Nations communities travelled in order to join the Adams Lake and Secwépemc people in the Walking Our Spirits Home event, which honoured residential school survivors, those who didn’t return home and all those affected by the institutions. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)First Nations communities travelled in order to join the Adams Lake and Secwépemc people in the Walking Our Spirits Home event, which honoured residential school survivors, those who didn’t return home and all those affected by the institutions. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
A powerful honour song recognizing all the survivors of the residential schools was sung during the closing ceremony of the Walking Our Spirits Home event on the Adams Lake territory on Sunday, June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)A powerful honour song recognizing all the survivors of the residential schools was sung during the closing ceremony of the Walking Our Spirits Home event on the Adams Lake territory on Sunday, June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Horses joined the many people on foot for the Walking Our Spirits Home event, which saw a procession travel all the way from the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 11 to the Adams Lake band conference centre near Chase on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Horses joined the many people on foot for the Walking Our Spirits Home event, which saw a procession travel all the way from the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 11 to the Adams Lake band conference centre near Chase on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Adams Lake Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse speaks during the closing ceremonies June 13 for the Walking Our Spirits Home event. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Adams Lake Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse speaks during the closing ceremonies June 13 for the Walking Our Spirits Home event. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Support for the Adams Lake and Sewépemc Walking Our Spirits Home event, June 11 to 13, came from many Indigenous communities. Indigenous police officers also offered their support to the procession supporting residential school survivors and all those affected by residential schools that walked from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to outside the Adams Lake conference centre near Chase. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)Support for the Adams Lake and Sewépemc Walking Our Spirits Home event, June 11 to 13, came from many Indigenous communities. Indigenous police officers also offered their support to the procession supporting residential school survivors and all those affected by residential schools that walked from the Kamloops Indian Residential School to outside the Adams Lake conference centre near Chase. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
The many people taking part in the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home event from the Kamloops residential school to Adams Lake territory to honour residential school survivors encountered rolling hills on the last day of the procession, June 13, where they walked about 10.5 kilometres and gathered for a moving closing ceremony. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)The many people taking part in the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home event from the Kamloops residential school to Adams Lake territory to honour residential school survivors encountered rolling hills on the last day of the procession, June 13, where they walked about 10.5 kilometres and gathered for a moving closing ceremony. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
The third and last day of the Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, the ones who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions, began at the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 11 and stopped on June 13 outside the Adams Lake conference centre near Chase. The third day began about 10.5 kilometres from the centre and when it was complete, a closing ceremony was held. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)The third and last day of the Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, the ones who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions, began at the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 11 and stopped on June 13 outside the Adams Lake conference centre near Chase. The third day began about 10.5 kilometres from the centre and when it was complete, a closing ceremony was held. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
The Walking Our Spirits Home procession begins its third day of walking on June 13, this day beginning about 10.5 kilometres from the Adams Lake conference centre. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)The Walking Our Spirits Home procession begins its third day of walking on June 13, this day beginning about 10.5 kilometres from the Adams Lake conference centre. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
On the third and last day of the Walking Our Spirits Home procession honouring residential school survivors and all affected by the residential schools, some people were able to rest their legs for part of the final 10.5 kilometres. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)On the third and last day of the Walking Our Spirits Home procession honouring residential school survivors and all affected by the residential schools, some people were able to rest their legs for part of the final 10.5 kilometres. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
A Welcome Home sign greeted the Walking Our Spirits Home procession on June 13 as the walk honouring residential school survivors, those who didn’t make it home and all those affected by the institutions came to an end outside the Adams Lake conference centre where a closing ceremony was held. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)A Welcome Home sign greeted the Walking Our Spirits Home procession on June 13 as the walk honouring residential school survivors, those who didn’t make it home and all those affected by the institutions came to an end outside the Adams Lake conference centre where a closing ceremony was held. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

A journey described as one of both sorrow and healing began on June 11 at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, reaching its destination on June 13 at the home of the Adams Lake band near Chase.

Many different First Nations came from far and wide to participate in the Walking Our Spirits Home event, which honoured residential school survivors, those who never returned and all those affected by the institutions.

Held by the Adams Lake band following the confirmation of the remains of 215 children at the residential school, the walk’s last segment on June 13 included a stop at the Adams Lake graveyard to honour past residential school survivors.

“We started to put on our purple and blue colours – those are healing colours,” said speaker Paul Michel at the closing ceremony held outside the Adams Lake gym.

“We’re still within that pain (the orange), but now we’re slowly transforming to the purple and the blues.”

He spoke of the healing from welcoming the ancestors back home.

Michel also offered two suggestions to allies: One, that allies educate themselves about the truth and about reconciliation and, two, “allies must get to know us, listen to our traditions, our ceremonies and our stories.”

In one of many emotional moments during the closing ceremony, the names of 82 Adams Lake survivors of residential schools were called out and those in attendance were ‘blanketed’ or given gifts to honour them. Residential school survivors from other First Nations were also honoured with gifts.

Then a powerful honour song sung for the survivors seemed to lift the atmosphere in the large open-air covered area where participants were gathered.

Read more: Indigenous history in Shuswap recognized with unveiling of first Trailhead post

Read more: School district, City of Salmon Arm offer condolences to region’s First Nations

Read more: Flag raising at School District 83 centre recognizes Secwépemc territory

More than one person thanked the survivors because, without them, many of those present would not have been.

Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse welcomed and thanked the other First Nations, the singers, the spiritual leaders and the elders in attendance for their words and support.

He said the 215 unmarked graves mean the reality is undeniable now, “heartbreaking, shocking, genocide. We have a lot of work to do. We’re only just beginning. We’ve all got to be closer together now.”

On the walk, some people were crying, some laughing, some were just tired, he said, “and it’s time to do something.”

“I am so grateful to hear the songs. So grateful to hear the people laughing together. That’s what it’s all about. We’re all here to heal together. All the other stuff isn’t worth very much if we’re still sick.

“We need to heal. We need to get better. We need to get together and unite and be able to move forward in a good way.”

Speakers included Chase Mayor Rod Crowe who referred to Chase residents, saying there are “2,500 of us who live across the river who want to honour and respect all the survivors and all of those that never made it home.”

Adams Lake Councillor Brandy Chelsea, who envisioned the Walking Our Spirits Home event two years earlier, expressed her appreciation for the songs and thanked people for being part of the vision.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nationsresidential schools