A pod of orcas joined the 7 Generation Steward Society at the Tyee Spit singing in memorial for the 215 children found in Kamloops. Photo courtesy Cory Cliffe

A pod of orcas joined the 7 Generation Steward Society at the Tyee Spit singing in memorial for the 215 children found in Kamloops. Photo courtesy Cory Cliffe

VIDEO: Whales appear during Indigenous ceremony for 215 children in Campbell River

‘Our ancestors wouldn’t appear if we weren’t doing things in a good way’ — Cory Cliffe

The 7 Generations Steward Society had a surprise during a small ceremony they held last week to commemorate the 215 children found buried at the Kamloops Residential School.

“There was an ceremony downtown, but because it was during the day, a lot of people had to miss it,” said Cory Cliffe, founder of the society. “I talked to the board of directors with 7 Generations Steward Society and we agreed that something needed to happen down at the Spit. It didn’t need to be huge, but something needed to happen.”

The 7 Generation Steward Society was started by Cliffe earlier this year to help build the next generation of Indigenous environmental stewards, providing them with cultural and scientific knowledge to build a sense of ancestral responsibility and environmental protection.

The society organized a group of seven people, five singers and two youth, to hold a small ceremony in memory of those 215 children at Tyee Spit in Campbell River. They were joined by a crowd of people wishing to pay their respects and two Hereditary Chiefs. The singing started with a traditional prayer song, before going into a paddle song.

“Towards the end of the paddle song, somebody in the crowd started making the body motion of the killer whale. We thought that they were just feeling the spirit, but the next thing you know people were pulling out their cameras and going ‘Holy cow, look at that!’ We turned around and there were killer whales coming towards us,” Cliffe said.

“It was a beautiful thing. We went right into a celebration song with a bit of a faster beat and they came in right close to the shoreline and passed right behind us,” he added.

RELATED: Gathering held at Spirit Square to commemorate 215 children

Cliffe said that he had spoken afterwards with some Elders and Chiefs, who requested the story be told, saying: “During the time of the great sickness, seven Kwakwakaʼwakw men stood on the shores of the Laichwiltach and sang praise to 215 children that were taken by residential school. During that time, our ancestors came in the form of the Killer Whale to carry that message across to the spirit world.”

To Cliffe, the ancestors coming in the form of killer whales told him that he and the 7 Generation Steward Society were doing the right thing.

“Naturally, I was really nervous leading up to it and I was kind of wondering ‘am I doing this appropriately?’ Once we’d seen the Killer Whales coming through, personally I felt a feeling of relief because our ancestors wouldn’t appear if we weren’t doing things in a good way,” he said. “That was really inspiring for me to see. It’s really motivational when things like that happen because we know that we’re on the right track to tracking down who we were and representing our people as we are now.”

Cliffe hopes to continue connecting with the community, especially with the possibility of more children being found at residential school site across the country.

“For the next 10 years here in Canada I think that almost monthly we’re going to be going through this same feeling of loss as more of these residential schools are hit with the ground penetrating radar,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of pain. I’m glad that 7 Generation Steward Society had its beginning when it did. There’s going to be a lot of work to do in the community to help people heal. It’s a great opportunity to do some cultural sensitivity training.”

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

RELATED: Klahoose First Nation holds memorial gathering for 215 children

RELATED: Education program to empower Indigenous youth



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverFirst NationsIndigenousLocal NewsOrca

Just Posted

Traffic will be diverted through Radium along highways 93 and 95 as a part of the closures. (Claire Palmer photo)
Extended closures to Trans-Canada Highway announced east of Golden this fall

It’s the second round of extended closures as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

Most Read