Okanagan Nation unveils monument to honour Syilx residential school survivors
Statue is located at the spot where children were once loaded into trucks and taken away
A new monument has been unveiled in the South Okanagan to recognize the trauma suffered by local residential school survivors.
The statue called Bringing Our Children Home depicts Indigenous parents welcoming their children with open arms.
It is located at the exact spot where children were once loaded into cattle trucks and taken to the residential schools in Kamloops and Cranbrook, B.C.
"Where we stand is the site where our children were taken. They were literally ripped from the arms of their families," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
"They were taken from their homes. They were taken out of this community."
'It's important for people to know'
The Syilx Indian Residential School Committee has been working for more than a year to develop a collective Nation monument to recognize residential school attendees.
On Tuesday, an unveiling ceremony included a number of residential school survivors, including Jack Kruger.
He describes years of abuse and calls the experience "traumatic."
"Today I have a hard time surviving. Every day is a struggle for me," said Kruger.
"I think it's important for people to know the story because never again would I like to see this happen to anybody else."
Organizers hope the monument will become a place where community members can quietly reflect on the past and the resilience of the Syilx school survivors.
"I'm filled with hope that our families are going to come back together and really start healing," said Chad Eneas, chief of the Penticton Indian Band.
"From this point forward, we walk into our future, our bright future, knowing in our hearts that we owe a debt of gratitude to all of those that did not surrender," added Phillip.
The monument can be found outside of the Okanagan Nation's hatchery at 155 En'owkin Trail in Penticton.
With files from CBC's Brady Strachan.