Annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run run honours residential school survivors | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run run honours residential school survivors

An annual event held by the Okanagan Nation Alliance has even more weight this year, as Indigenous communities across Canada grieve for the 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School. The 13th annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run got underway June 2 and goes until June 7.
Image Credit: Okanagan Nation Alliance
June 04, 2021 - 11:22 AM

An annual event held by the Okanagan Nation Alliance has even more weight this year, as Indigenous communities across Canada grieve for the 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School.

The 13th annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run got underway June 2 and goes until June 7, according to an Okanagan Nation Alliance media release.

A small opening circle and prayer started the run and this year’s virtual event sees Syilx youth and members running out on the land in their own pods, aiming to reach the Kamloops Indian Residential school to raise awareness about the disproportionate rates of violence and suicide in Indigenous communities.

READ MORE: Survivor of Kamloops residential school breaking silence and calling for action

“This year’s run has a particular weight and importance as the Syilx Nation collectively grieves the recent uncovering of a mass grave of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School," the release reads. "Many Syilx Indian Residential School survivors are alive today and were forcibly removed from their families and sent to the Kamloops residential school. As the level of these atrocities and attempted genocide are made public, they shed light on deep wounds that our people have known about all along, as well as the intergenerational abuse, trauma and violence our Nation continues to endure.”

As runners lay their footprints down on the tmx'ulax' (land) during the event, they affirm the Sylix connection to the tmx'ulax' and culture, while also connecting their ancestors. This run not only raises awareness on these issues of violence, but also instills pride and the continuation of our Syilx culture and nsyilxcen language for generations to come, the Okanagan Nation Alliance said.

“We all know the violence that’s been committed against our people for centuries, and now we have the memory of 215 children that never made it home, and it’s our job to honour the memory of these children," Chief Chris Derickson said in the release. "It’s our job to make sure that the next generation lives a better life than this one, and the one that never made it. And I’m asking our Nation, our people, to really take it seriously, when we say that we are running to raise awareness for suicide prevention and violence prevention.

“The most terrible of which is the violence we commit against each other as Indigenous people in our communities. How we talk to one another. How we interact with one another. There are behaviours that can no longer be tolerated. If we’re going to honour the memory of these 215 children that never made it home, let’s make our homes better, let’s make our communities better, let’s make our Nation better, by honouring one another and treating each other as Syilx people. Understanding that how we treat each other determines the lives that our children will live.”

READ MORE: Identifying children's remains at Kamloops residential school stalled by lack of records


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