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

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

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

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

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

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

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

Most Read