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

Little Brown Bat, Cori Lausen image
Puntledge River bats being studied

Scientists will be monitering bat activity in the Puntlesge River Watershed this… Continue reading

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

ROAM Media’s Ian Adams designed the label for the new honey ale. Image supplied
Church St., Ace combine on a true Comox Valley brew

The taphouse has Home Buoy on tap, and it’s also in cans

The finish line! Huband held a ‘Colour Run’ Friday to celebrate what’s been a different school year. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley school lets its colours run

Huband Elementary wanted a way to bring kids together

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Most Read