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Okanagan Nation Alliance plans unveiling ceremony for residential school monument

Sculptures by 'Smoker' Marchand grace many points in the central and south Okanagan. A new one to be unveiled later this month recognizes residential school survivors.
November 14, 2017 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance are welcoming everyone to the official unveiling ceremony at the end of the month for a monument paying homage to the nation’s residential school participants and survivors.

The Syilx Indian Residential Committee announced last week in a release artist ‘Smoker' Virgil Marchand has been selected to procure the art for the Indian residential school monument, to be placed on the Penticton Indian Band, at a location near the nation’s fish hatchery. The site commemorates the place where Syilx children were gathered and displaced to residential schools on trains and cattle trucks.

The monument represents the culmination of more than a year of work to develop a collective monument recognizing Syilx attendees of Indian residential schools. The monument will honour residential school survivors' resiliency in addition to recognizing an often overlooked time in this country’s colonial history, creating awareness and eduction of that era.

Marchand is also a survivor or the Indian residential school system at St. Mary’s Mission boarding school.

"I will always embrace the natural elements of my culture and heritage and share my art talents with others whenever I can," he says. "I know how much it helped me, and how it took a troubled youth and made him a person others respect and admire. If my experiences, trials and errors can contribute to bringing out the talents of others, then I have truly appreciated the spirit of the gift art has given me.”

The unveiling of the Okanagan Nation’s Indian Residential School Monument will take place Nov. 28, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. with a formal unveiling of the monument with contributors and dignitaries, followed by a feast. Everyone is welcome, as the event is open to the public.

The event takes place at 155 En'owkin Trail on the Penticton Indian Band. Visitors are advised to dress warmly for the outdoor celebration.


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