A heart of ribbons is seen on the fence of Highroad Academy along Chilliwack Central Road on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A heart of ribbons is seen on the fence of Highroad Academy along Chilliwack Central Road on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Orange Heart Memorial campaign launches in Vernon on National Indigenous Peoples Day

North Okanagan Friendship Center raising funds for bench, mural memorializing 215 discovered in Kamloops

The North Okanagan Friendship Centre (NOFC) is launching a fundraiser to purchase and install a bench and mural to honour the 215 children whose remains were discovered buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“The large-scale discovery is extremely disturbing and shocking to all of us,” NOFCS executive director Patricia Wilson said.

NOFCS said while survivors, friends, family and schoolmates shared stories in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, “their stories fell on deaf ears until the discovery of the mass burial of 215 Indigenous children,” NOFCS said in a statement extending condolences to all affected by the discovery and the residential school system.

While understaffed and in the midst of a pandemic, the Friendship Centre continues to offer outreach programs to ensure families are supported and safe as the legacy of residential schools continues to “permeate everyday life as we help first-, second-, third-, fourth-generation survivors.”

“We want to acknowledge the personal and collective grief that we, as Indigenous peoples, are dealing with in our own way through cultural ways and supporting one another,” NOFCS said on behalf of the organization.

Orange Hearts will launch on June 21, 2021, coinciding with National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The 29th Street office will have its doors open 10-2 p.m. to the public to drop in and write a message on an orange heart that will be displayed in the courtyard before being delivered to Kamloops.

Donations made out to Orange Hearts will be accepted online at nofcs.ca, by mail or in person.

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