Residential School
(photo via Find Our Lost Children GoFundMe)

A trio of Indigenous leaders and artists based in Victoria are calling on the public to help raise funds to search for victims of residential schools along the west coast.

The group includes filmmaker and Island Health worker Steve Sxwithul’txw, a member of the Penelakut Tribe, Tom LaFortune, a carver and leader of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council and a member of the Tsawout First Nation, and Michelle Mundy, a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation who has taught classes at Camosun College and also works with Island Health.

Together, the three are organizing a GoFundMe to pay for a ground penetrating radar unit which can be used to find the remains of victims of residential schools along the west coast.

Steve Sxwithul’txw stated on the GoFundMe page that the idea emerged out of the recent tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops residential school.

“Carver Tom LaFortune who resides in Victoria mentioned in a recent phone call how devastating this news has been for him and his family,” Sxwithul’txw said.

“We discussed our emotional attachment to this tragic event, we decided to take action. We can no long rely on government to take initiative.”

The three Indigenous leaders have identified several locations that the radar could be used at. They include:

  • Kuper Island Residential School – Penelakut Island
  • St. Michaels Residential School –  Alert Bay
  • Christie (Clayoquot/Kakawis) School  – Tofino/Meares Island
  • Alberni Residential School – Port Alberni
  • Ahousaht Residential School – Flores Island

As of 12 p.m. PST on Tuesday, the GoFundMe had raised $10,000 of its $25,000 goal. Contributions can be made online at gofundme.com/f/find-our-lost-children.

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