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Residential school memorial pole begins 600 km journey to Vancouver for ceremony

A monument created in Port Hardy to remember children who died at residential schools starts its journey to Vancouver tomorrow.

Master carver Stan Hunt has spent the last 10 months working on the 18-foot pole. He says it’s for the children who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools away from their culture.

“In the next few days while we’re travelling, we want to make it clear what the purpose of this monument is, and bring awareness this really did happen,” he says. “Those children were murdered, placed in a ditch and buried with dirt. That’s what we’re marking.”

Hunt says the monument is for all children who were harmed by residential schools across Canada.

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“It has connections to every residential school,” he says. “All the little children who were brought away from their families were very loved by their families. They were being brought up in the way they had been brought up for the last thousands upon thousands of years, they were brought up to live with nature.

“There was absolutely no reason for them to be brought to those schools. There are no words anywhere in any language that can make sense of what happened to them in those schools. It’s a dark history.”

The pole is carved with the faces of 130 children and a raven embracing them. Each face is outlined in orange to show “Every Child Matters” and the pole is painted black to mark a dark time in history.

Friday morning there will be a ceremony in Carrot Park in Port Hardy with special songs and a special fire. The pole is already loaded on a truck provided by the Canadian Coast Guard and will head south after the blessing. It will be escorted by RCMP to the Thunderbird Hall in Campbell River where it will be on display, then it will be taken to Gold River the next day.

It will visit Nanaimo and Duncan on June 19, then Victoria on June 20, where it will be loaded aboard a Coast Guard hovercraft and escorted to Vancouver by an RCMP catamaran, Coast Guard vessel, and the HMCS Edmonton. It will be part of a special ceremony June 21 at Canada Place to mark National Indigenous People’s Day.

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