North Okanagan Friendship Center Society launching fundraiser to honour Indigenous children

Orange Hearts for kids

The North Okanagan Friendship Center Society wants to create a local memorial to Indigenous children whose lives have been lost.

Last month, the remains of 215 children were found at the former Kamloops residential school site.

“The large-scale discovery is extremely disturbing and shocking to all of us,” said Patricia Wilson, NOFCS executive director. “We honour the work of those whose efforts were successful in finding our Indigenous children. We respect and uphold the stories from the survivors who told us that there were more of their friends, family members, and schoolmates to be found. These stories were conveyed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but their stories fell on deaf ears until the discovery of the mass burial of 215 Indigenous children.”

In a press release, the society stated: “The sad truth is that this is not just a chapter of Canadian history, it is ongoing through the systemic removal of our Indigenous infants, children and youth from our communities. The terrible legacy of Indian residential schools permeates our everyday life as we help 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation survivors of a system that took away the Indian children from their families and cultural life to a foreign system that served to abuse, denigrate and strip our Indian children of their innocent lives.”

On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, the NOFCS is launching the “Orange Hearts” fundraiser for a memorial bench and mural to honour the Indigenous children and families and to expand services to infants, children, youth and their families.

The NOFCS is also working on plans to build an Indigenous childcare facility, and is seeking a suitable site in Greater Vernon.

On National Aboriginal Day, the NOFCS main office, 2904-29th St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the public to drop in and write a message on an orange heart that will be displayed in the courtyard and delivered to Kamloops, where ongoing ceremonies are occurring.

Anyone can contribute to the fund by going to the NOFCS website and contributing via PayPal, or mail in or drop off a cheque payable to NOFCS and note the donation to “Orange Hearts.”

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