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North Vancouver students visit residential school memorial

October 24, 2019


Carisbrooke Elementary students observe a memorial for residential school survivors in North Vancouver Monday. Students participated in one of the school's ongoing truth and reconciliation efforts. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

by Ben Bengtson, North Shore News

Students at Carisbrooke Elementary are walking to walk, even though there’s still a long way to go.

A group of kids in grades 4 to 7 walked from their school to St. Paul’s Indian Residential School Memorial, at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Sixth Street, Monday morning as part of an ongoing truth and reconciliation effort.

“Last year we became a Downie Wenjack Legacy School,” said Carisbrooke principal Lisa Upton. “In addition to learning about the true history of Canada and the truth of residential schools, we do a reconciliation action.”

In honour of the legacy of Chanie Wenjack, who was just nine years old when he was taken from his family and sent to a residential school hundreds of kilometres away in the 1960s, students were asked to write down what they were going to bring with them – what they’d need – for a long walk. Wenjack was found frozen to death in 1966 after he ran away from residential school looking to get back home.

As students walked from Carisbrooke to the memorial, they were asked to consider: “What do all of us need to bring on our journey moving forward on reconciliation?”

Kids wrote down ideas such as “hope,” “patience,” “honesty,” and “courage,” according to Upton.

When students arrived at the memorial, which lists the names of students sent to North Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Indian Residential School, Residential school survivor Sempulyan addressed students and talked about his experience.

“I think for all of us it’s important to see that the legacy of residential school is alive and ongoing and that it’s real. That is not something that’s in the past, it’s something that families and people are living with every day,” said Upton.