Ahousaht to release findings from investigations into two former residential school sites | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Ahousaht to release findings from investigations into two former residential school sites

Ahousaht, BC

After nearly three years of planning and preparation, Ahousaht will soon release the results of their searches of the grounds around two Indian residential schools that were located within its territories.

The Ahousaht Residential School operated in the early 1900s to the late 1940s on Flores Island. The children’s homes in the village were just a short walk away, but it was a requirement that they live at the institution. Run by the United Church of Canada, the Ahousaht Residential School was never replaced after it burnt down. The remaining buildings were used as Indian day schools until they were replaced with newer day school buildings, closer to the homes of the children.

The second school site, Christie Indian Residential School, was located on Meares Island and operated by the Catholic Church.

Anne Atleo is Ahousaht’s Residential School Research Project’s manager.

“We will be sharing an update about our search for children who attended the Ahousaht Indian Residential School and children who attended the Christie Indian Residential School,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “Ahousaht would love to see the attendees and their descendants at this gathering.”

Atleo said their research has shown that children were sent from all over coastal British Columbia to attend the residential schools in their territory.

Ahousaht issued a hina tuh mahs suwa (invitation to you), asking people to come to the village on April 10, 2024. The event will start at 9:30 a.m. at Thunderbird Hall.

“ʔahʔiiḥča̓ p ʔukʷił ʔiqḥmuut (Honouring our Ancient Ones). With humble hearts and respect, Ahousaht invites you to be with us as we share information about our search for children who attended the Ahousaht Residential School and children who attended the Christie Residential School,” reads the invitation.

The invitation goes on to say, “our children are sacred beings, and many came to these two schools; we acknowledge and honour our children and their resilience and strength that they passed on to us. We will share results of Phase 1 of ground surveys conducted at both school sites, a summary about the archival research as well as share an update about the interview process.”

“Ahousaht RSRP team’s mandate is two-fold,” said Atleo.

First, they will honour all the children by finding the names of those who attended and where they went after being at Christie Indian Residential School or Ahousaht Residential school. The team vows to search for those who did not go home from the institutions.

Second, Ahousaht hopes to assist survivors and be a catalyst to healing.

According to Atleo, the day will start with breakfast at the Thunderbird Hall followed by cultural protocols. Activities during the morning will be closed to media so that Ahousaht can create a safe space for survivors and their family, as they share results of the ground searches and research into the institutions.

Following lunch, the information will be shared with the public.

Atleo said that the day’s events are not only about the findings of the ground search, but also about giving an opportunity to survivors and their families to have a safe space to document their truth. Ahousaht has hired archivists to collect and record stories from survivors and their families.

Cultural and mental wellness support teams will be present throughout the event.

Guests will be invited to a dinner of seafood and game meat.

“The children at residential school had horrible food,” said Atleo.

This is why it is important for Ahousaht to share comfort food with their guests.

Atleo said they will provide travel expense assistance for those that attended either Ahousaht Residential School or Christie Indian Residential School.

Anyone wishing to volunteer to help with cooking, cleaning, set-up or wishing to donate food can contact Atleo and her team at 250-670-9563 ext. 503.

Survivors or descendants needing travel assistance should call Atleo’s team by March 29th, 2024. They can contact Anne Atleo by email at residentialschool.researchproject@ahousaht.ca

Check the page on Facebook for additional information https://www.facebook.com/groups/272961375163910/?mibextid=uJjRxr

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