Indigenous walkers soon arriving at former Kamloops residential school grounds | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Indigenous walkers soon arriving at former Kamloops residential school grounds

Shayna Taypotat (left) with best friend Fallon Rhea on Shayna's "Walk to Healing For All" from her reserve in Saskatchewan to the Kamloops Residential School grounds.
Image Credit: Shayna Taypotat
August 07, 2021 - 8:00 AM

Three Indigenous groups are walking to the former Kamloops Residential School grounds from various parts of the country. They have been walking for weeks and are getting close to their destination, the Tk’emlups Pow Wow Arbour.

The groups are walking in response to the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Yukon Walkers will be the first to arrive at the Pow Pow grounds. They have been on a Warriors Walk for Healing Nations since they left the Yukon Hall site in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories in late June.

They are currently approaching the Bonaparte St’uxwtews First Nation reserve west of Cache Creek and are due to arrive there around noon on August 7, according to Angie Thorne of the Bonaparte First Nations Social Development Department.

Thorne says her department has been keeping in touch with the group as they have been marching south across the province.

“We are welcoming the Yukon Walkers with a potluck lunch,” Thorne said. “The Whispering Pines First Nation will be providing accommodations. Indigenous communities have been providing these walkers with accommodations throughout their journey. This group is walking in honour of the 215 Kamloops children and those who haven’t been found yet.”

The group are from the Tahltan, Vuntut Gwich’in, Northern and Southern Tutchone, Tlingit, and Kaska Nations.

The Three Feather Group left Regina, Saskatchewan at the end of June but really started covering kilometers when they left Strathmore, Alberta almost two weeks ago. They are currently in Sicamous, B.C.

One of the walkers is 73-year-old Iva Geddes-McNabb.

“We are walking 40 to 50 km every day,” she said. “All we do is eat, sleep and walk. I have been walking my whole life to help me deal with grief and loss. It is as though I have been preparing for this. When I heard about these little children I knew I had to do something. I am walking because I want people to understand how we were treated. So much was taken away from us. Especially those little kids who never made it home. Those are the ones I think about when I walk. I pray and cry while I walk.”

Geddes-McNabb said both of her parents went to residential school and she went to day school. 

“Every morning we had to go to the chapel and we would have to kneel for hours just listening to the priest talking,” she said. “We were told we were bad and that stayed in our heads. My mother was told her parents didn’t want her and they would hit her harder the more she cried. Some girls would have big bellies and all of a sudden they would be flat and she didn’t know what was going on. All the stories bothered me. My parents didn’t know how to be parents. And they ended up being alcoholics. The cycle just went on and on.”

Geddes-McNabb said people in the communities have been walking with the group and sharing their stories. She says people have been very kind, giving them money for food and gas along the way.

Shayna Taypotat left her Kahkewistahaw First Nation east of Regina, Saskatchewan end of June on her Walk to Healing For All. She is currently in Lake Louise, Alberta.

The 29-year-old said she is inspired to bring a message of hope and healing for all in the wake of the discoveries of children’s remains at residential schools, and as she walks, she prays.

“I pray for the healing of everyone, Indigenous, non-Indigenous, every culture and every person who has been affected by abuse,” she said. “My people have been abused, stripped of their culture and murdered. Today the rippling effects can be seen throughout Canada, within every First Nation. This rippling effect stops at me.”

               READ MORE: Indigenous woman from Saskatchewan has been walking to Kamloops for over a month

Taypotat says she cannot pinpoint a day she will be setting foot in Kamloops due to weather, smoke and unforeseen challenges.

Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc has announced the Warriors Walk for Healing Nations are scheduled to arrive in their territory Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in a media release. The public is invited to join. Please contact for more information.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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