Penticton cyclists planning '215 for 215' ride for residential school victims | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton cyclists planning '215 for 215' ride for residential school victims

Paul Varga and cycling partner Linda Goff have launched a gofundme page and are planning a bicycle tour from Penticton to Kamloops in support of victims of Canada's residential school system.
Image Credit: Paul Varga/ gofundme

Penticton lawyer Paul Varga and his cycling partner Linda Goff are preparing to make an awareness ride in support of Canada’s residential school victims.

The pair have started a gofundme page to raise $2,150 towards the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

The organization says it has a broad mandate, with a mission statement "to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for survivors, families and communities."

The page launched yesterday, June 3 and has already reached nearly $800. Varga says if the goal is reached, they will raise the limit to $21,500 and “see how it goes.”

The ride is intended to pay respects to each of the students who went there, and those who never returned, one kilometre for each child found buried at the former Kamloops Residential School.

“We’re doing this to make sure the issue doesn’t go away. Sometimes in our grief we just need to act, and that’s where Linda and I are today,” Varga says.

He added it’s important not to ‘take over’ and speak for someone who is more than capable of speaking for themselves, but both he and Linda want to offer what support they can to people who are going through a traumatic time.

“This has opened up a lot of wounds and people are reliving a traumatic time because of this,” he says in reference to the discovery of 215 children’s bodies in a grave behind Kamloops old residential school last week.

“It’s important for us to be supporters and allies in their grief and know we are there for them as well.”

The ride has been approved by Indian Residential School Survivors Society Director of Finance and Operations Paul Plater, and Varga says he and Linda will be reaching out to the Kamloops and Penticton Indian Bands for their blessing as well.

“A lot of what has happened to First Nations has been done to or for them, most often on behalf of them without asking. I think it’s respectful to ask, but Linda I will do the ride, as it’s something we feel we need to do for ourselves, also,” Varga says.

Not all details of the ride are in place yet, but Varga says plans now are to depart from the Peach concession in Penticton or possibly out of Summerland on June 19 at 8 a.m. for a 215 kilometre bike ride to the Kamloops Indian Residential School, arriving on June 20.

There is an open invitation for anyone to join the ride.

More information and updates on the ride's schedule can be found here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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