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Yukon residential school survivors to join Warrior Walkers in Kamloops for ceremony of healing

Warrior Walk for Healing will be joined by others in Kamloops
The Warrior Walk for Healing Nations made a stop in Quesnel on July 29. They were greeted by leaders from the Lhtako Dené First Nation, Nazko First Nation and Esdilagh First Nation. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo/Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Council is sending members to Kamloops for a ceremony of healing on Aug. 9.

“The council initiative to send CAFN citizens is to address the intergenerational trauma,” says an expression of interest posted by the First Nation.

The trip was available for survivors and their descendants, and includes accommodations and an allowance for food and mileage. They will join the Warrior Walk for Healing Nations in Kamloops.

The Warrior Walk began their healing journey on June 26, walking from Whitehorse to Kamloops in recognition of the first 215 children revealed at a residential school site in the Kamloops area.

The walkers attended the demolition of the residential school in Lower Post on June 30, and have been walking since. During this time, additional grave sites have been identified on other residential school sites across Canada.

On Aug. 2, the walkers arrived in Quesnel, British Columbia, and spoke with Cassidy Dankochik of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

“I think the enormity of the impacts of residential schools has been heavy on our hearts,” said walker and organizer Jacqueline Shorty. “Thinking of all the things Indigenous Canadians have had to endure has been tough. It’s been hard, and it’s stretched us in every way possible, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.”

On Aug. 3, the group reached Williams Lake and were heading out to St. Joseph Residential School the next day. The Williams Lake First Nation is currently searching the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission residential school using ground-penetrating radar, the same technology used in the discovery of the unmarked graves found in Kamloops, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The journey began with Jamie Henyu of Telegraph Creek thinking he would walk to Kamloops by himself. When the Yukon’s Northern Nations Alliance joined him, a larger vision began to take shape. Nearly 20 participants were photographed in Quesnel in their bright orange shirts.

People from many Yukon First Nations have joined the walk and even more will attend the healing ceremony. Champagne Aishihik says that the journey represents all Indigenous people and has become a movement and an opportunity to raise awareness for future generations.

Many have been moved in their own way to embody respect, compassion and healing for the tragedy of generations.

In Whitehorse, there will be a smudging ceremony at 3 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre’s sacred fire pit to honour the lives lost. The poster reads:

“For the children lost. People are listening.”

— With files from the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Contact Lawrie Crawford at