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A bridge leading to a former residential school on Vancouver Island was vandalized with a racial slur

 

Warning: This story contains disturbing details.

Tseshaht First Nation is condemning hate speech after a bridge leading to a former residential school on Vancouver Island was defaced with anti-Aboriginal slurs on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

According to the First Nation, the incident It happened around 10 pm Friday at the Riverbend Bridge, also known as the Orange Bridge, which crosses the Somas River at Highway 4 and Falls Street in Port Alberni, BC.

The text was painted on the barrier at the entrance to the bridge “Every Child Matters” – Reference to the thousands of children who died in federally run residential schools. On Friday, someone wrote over the word “child” and turned it into a hateful slur against the tribe.

There was the Orange Bridge Recently repainted By the First Nation in honor of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

The Tseshaht First Nation said the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure helped pay for the recent painting of the bridge. (Tseshaht First Nation/Facebook)

“Unfortunately, some misinformed people decided to disrespect and vandalize this beautiful new site,” said Wahmeesh (Ken Watts), Chief Councilor-elect of the Tseshaht First Nation.

“It traumatized many survivors who had suffered horrific atrocities and abuses – it motivated them.”

Before the bridge was destroyed on Friday, more than 1,000 survivors and community members marched across it to the site of the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) to pay their respects to the children who died there.

“After the rising day of the social meeting that took place [on Friday]We hope this offensive and disrespectful act will not bring our survivors down,” a statement from the First Nation read.

Port Alberni RCMP said they are investigating the incident and are asking anyone with information to contact them.

“Such senseless acts are unacceptable and disturbing to our society, and will undermine efforts for truth and reconciliation,” said Const. Richard Johns in a statement.

Number of deaths in former school

The Riverbend Bridge, located near the Tseshaht Administration Building, was painted orange for many years before being painted gray in 1990.

AIRS is just a few blocks away. Between 1900 and 1973, more than 100 First Nations children were forced to attend school. When the land was acquired by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council in 2009, most of the former school was demolished by the survivors. .

Among the trees is a green building.  A black vehicle is parked ahead.
According to Chief-elect Ken Watts, Caldwell Hall is one of the last remaining buildings that were part of the former residential school. (Submitted by Tseshaht First Nation)

Four teachers at AIRS pleaded guilty to school abuse.

Several children died there during its years of operation, according to National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.

In July, the Tseshaht First Nation announced plans to deploy ground-penetrating radar Look for unmarked graves A whole 100 hectares on the former school site. The First Nation has informed that the preliminary works for that started on September 23.

Wahmish told CBC News the bridge brought back painful and traumatic memories, and survivors wanted to return to orange to mark a new beginning.

The slogan “Every Child Matters” was repainted with the help of volunteers on Saturday, Wahmish said, adding that the community had received many messages of sympathy after the vandalism.

“That’s what we need to focus on, those people moving forward,” he said.

“But let’s not simplify our education so that the next generation of Canadians will be less racist, or better informed about what happened so they can teach their children better respect.”


Support is available for anyone affected by residential schools or recent reports.

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to survivors and victims. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counseling and crisis support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat. www.hopeforwellness.ca.

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