TteS and SD73 Celebrate Inaugural District Powwow

Posted On Thursday May 26, 2022

Language, tradition, and learning were among the takeaways from the Kamloops-Thompson School District’s first-ever powwow.

Hundreds of grade 4 and 5 students came together on Wednesday, May 25 at the Tk’emlups Arbour to join hands – literally and figuratively – and participate in what proved to be an immersive cultural experience complete with traditional prayers, hand drumming, dancers in regalia, and singing.

“We welcome you with open arms and an open heart,” said Tk’emlups te Secwépemc Councillor Morning-Star Peters. “We want to share our culture because at one time, we weren’t allowed to do that. This is so important for us to do this together to build unity and for us to be inclusive with each other.”

Earlier in the week, a memorial was held to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the discovery of the unmarked graves just a short distance away from the powwow site.

During the powwow, many speakers including dignitaries and elder Evelyn Camille discussed the tragedy, how it has impacted their lives, and how it will change the future, as a way to educate the audience of children on the magnitude of the findings.

“Back when the children’s lives were ended, they were known as a number,” explained Tk’emlups te Secwépemc representative Ted Gottfriedson. “Our elders, who are also survivors of [the Kamloops Indian Residential School] and other residential schools, have decided that they no longer wanted to call our kids who were confirmed there ‘the 215’ because they felt it wasn’t appropriate to refer to them as a number anymore.

“Our elders have decided to call the children, Le Estcwicwéy, and if that’s something you would like to learn how to say, I think that that would be really appropriate and it would really honour those kids.”

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