An image from the Ballantyne Project’s Youtube video about Timber Bay residential school. (Special to The News)

An image from the Ballantyne Project’s Youtube video about Timber Bay residential school. (Special to The News)

Maple Ridge man works for residential school survivors

Ballantyne Project helps draw attention to Timber Bay school

A Maple Ridge man is involved with a high profile project that advocates for the survivors of a residential school.

Dwight Ballantyne is a Maple Ridge resident from the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, who has worked with First Nations young people through the Ballantyne Project. Now he is involved with the Timber Bay Project.

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On Friday, B’yauling Toni, a non-Indigenous 21-year-old University of Saskatchewan student, started on a solo snowshoe expedition over two weeks, in freezing temperatures from Saskatoon to Timber Bay. The goal of this marathon is to generate public awareness for survivors of Timber Bay school. These survivors have endured a decades-long battle to be acknowledged as residential school survivors, but have been denied by government.

According to a press release, Timber Bay school ran from 1952-1994, but was not designated as an official residential school. The advocates say that a funding loophole has allowed the school to be left off the list of residential schools in Canada. It is not located within the borders of a reserve, but lies just 18 km outside of Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

Ballantyne grew up near the school, and his family and community members are included on the list of thousands of survivors of this school.

He is getting involved with the project by creating daily narrated videos for social media.

The public can follow Toni’s journey by GPS tracker on The Ballantyne Project website. A petition has been created calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to recognize the school as a provincially run residential school, release the school records to survivors, and offer the students a formal apology and compensation.

The online petition can be accessed by visiting

When Toni reaches Timber Bay, he will be greeted by First Nations leaders and present a forgotten pair of moccasins. Earlier in 2021, Toni delivered a pair of moccasins to every official residential school in Saskatchewan during a cycling journey.

After a few days rest, he will snowshoe from Timber Bay to Lac La Ronge in a 24-hour period in remembrance of Bobby Bird and other students who perished while trying to escape the Timber Bay school.

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