Even residential school memorials not wanted in Peachland parks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Even residential school memorials not wanted in Peachland parks

Peachland council has banned these rocks.
Image Credit: Submitted/District of Peachland
July 15, 2021 - 6:00 PM

Peachland council spoke unanimously this week against allowing memorials of any sort in its parks — including community efforts to recognize children found buried near residential schools.

“I don’t really want to see our beach front or public areas turned into shrines of some kind,” Coun. Keith Fielding said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “Maybe there is a need for some organized way of allowing people to express their condolences and their concerns in some other fashion but I personally don’t believe it’s a good idea to do anything with our bylaw that might suggest or encourage that it’s OK to do this kind of thing.”

Municipal staff took a report to council saying that a wooden memorial had been placed in its waterfront park plus painted rocks memorializing the 215 graves of children found near a former Kamloops residential school.

After receiving complaints, staff removed the memorials but painted rocks continue to be placed in the beach park.

A local bylaw bans the placing of any material in parks except for ribbons on one bench memorializing Ashlee Hyatt. Staff wondered if council wanted to reconsider its bylaw.

READ MORE: Residential school tributes violate bylaws in Peachland

“Any family that wants to memorialize a loved one certainly has suffered loss,” Coun. Mike Kent said. “That’s unfortunate and deeply regrettable however, as a municipality, we have to consider public displays and, any kind of makeshift shrine, that certainly is a public display.”

Mayor Cindy Fortin asked what the difference was between these rocks and the shoes that were placed at a local school after the Kamloops discovery.

“One of the things we try to do as staff is to have compassion and understanding when something like that happens,” Cheryl Wiebe, director of community services for the community, said in response. “The shoe shrine was an example of something that happened in the moment and you, very respectfully, took the shoes to Kamloops and left them there. But, if you hadn’t done that, staff probably would have cleaned them up. Typically, we say seven days.”

In the end, the bylaw banning the deposit of any material in parks remains in place so tributes will likely stay in place for a week unless there are complaints.

Wiebe said staff know who is leaving the painted rocks and will contact them to see if something different can be done and in a different location.

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