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Posted: October 5, 2017

ǂkamnin’tik unveiling a stirring reminder

A large crowd gathered in front of St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino Oct. 4 to take part in a ceremonial unveiling of ǂkamnin’tik (The Children), a life-size granite sculpture that honours all children who attended residential school.

The ceremony, and the sculpture by local artist Cameron Douglas, was a stirring reminder of an original purpose of the formerly named St. Eugene Mission. From 1910 to 1970 it served as the Kootenay Indian Residential School.

Operated at the time by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Mission instructed 5,000 children from the Ktunaxa Nation, as well the Shuswap, Okanagan and Blackfoot Nations, in an attempt to assimilate and obliterate First Nations culture and languages.

Ktunaxa Elder Herman Alpine provided an opening prayer, as well as a clear and impactful picture of a forced and often brutal life at the Mission school, which he attended from 1949 to 1961.

Elder Sophie Pierre echoed Herman, noting prior to the unveiling that the sculpture is “not meant to be a pretty piece. It is meant to make you think. It is powerful,” she said.

Also taking part in the emotional ceremony were the Adrumnik Drum Group and St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino CEO Barry Zwueste who served as emcee.

This project was made possible with funding from sponsors: St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino, Ktunaxa Nation Council, Cameron Douglas, BMO, Martech Electrical and Columbia Basin Trust.

Herman Alpine
Sophie Pierre

Photos and video by Ian Cobb and Carrie Schafer

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