The makeshift memorial on the steps of the courthouse in Burns Lake. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

The makeshift memorial on the steps of the courthouse in Burns Lake. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Village seeking permanent residential school memorial

The village of Burns Lake Mayor and council are mulling over the idea of having a residential school memorial in the village.

Over the past few council meetings, the council has been discussing the idea of possibly putting in place a permanent memorial for the residential school victims.

Earlier last month, after bodies of 215 Indigenous children were discovered at the site of the former Kamloops Residential school, residents in and around Burns Lake started placing shoes on the steps of the courthouse in the village, in their memory.

“On behalf of the Village Council, I acknowledge, with great sorrow, the discovery of the remains of 215 children found at the Kamloops residential school. As a Council, we send our deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and share in your grief,” Mayor Dolores Funk had said in a news release issued by the village after announcing that the village would be lowering its flags at half mast in recognition of the 215 lost lives.

The Mayor later visited the makeshift memorial at the courthouse with councillor Charlie Rensby, both of whom felt that a permanent memorial would be more appropriate. When presented the idea to the rest of the council, support flowed in with some of the suggestions discussed during the meeting ranging from installing a cast shoe in Pioneer park to a flag at the Pioneer park with an orange flag flying at half mast. However no decisions were made.

The village council and Mayor are hoping this will pave way for a dialogue over the memorial and would be taking inputs from the First Nations in the region to ensure that the memorial chosen is respectful.

The council has now decided to bring the topic forward during the Community to Community (C2C) forum for discussion. The C2C will be applied for in the next round of grant intake. The previous C2C was cancelled due to COVID, said Sheryl Worthing, the village chief administrative officer.

She also said that so far, the discussions have been just ideas and the council wishes to seek input before proceeding. They will now wait until the C2C to explore the topic again.