Katrina Haintz is from the Hwlitsum First Nation and is an Aboriginal support worker at Eric Langton elementary. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Katrina Haintz is from the Hwlitsum First Nation and is an Aboriginal support worker at Eric Langton elementary. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge students, staff post messages about residential schools

Eric Langton students honour victims with visual display at school

Three women were at Eric Langton elementary on Monday night, putting up a memorial to the children recently found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

There were teddy bears, each with an inscription from a student, and they were mounting them on the fence around a large number 215 – the number of children whose remains were found.

Katrina Haintz, of the Hwlitsum First Nation, and an Aboriginal support worker at the school, was there with her daughter Marquesis and the school vice-principal Kyla Cameron.

Katrina hopes that today’s youth can be difference makers, and help make change that no other generation has done so far.

“Take a moment to read the messages on our fence, to hear the staff and students’ words to the children and families of the Kamloops residential school.”

She explained why she wanted to take on a project. She said it took a few days of dealing with emotions after hearing the news.

“First, I was relieved that finally people will hear the stories and maybe even believe that that this actually happened. Then I started to feel angry and frustrated. How could 215 children be buried at the residential school when the records showed only 54?” she said.

READ ALSO: Most Canadians say church to blame for residential-school tragedies: poll

“These schools only closed 25 years ago, but ran for around 150 years. Why did it take so long for society to realize this was not OK? This is not our past, this is still so current. The effects of these schools will cause suffering on our families for many years to come. It will take time, generation after generation to slowly heal the long-lasted trauma our families have endured.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Katzie First Nation gather in Maple Ridge park to remember residential school dead

She has family who went to residential schools, and wonders at the horror they went through, as the schools attempted to erase their heritage.

“It just makes me sad. All cultures are beautiful and should be appreciated, not taken away or removed,” she said.

“I really want to raise awareness and understanding of the real truth people don’t even know. As an Indigenous person, we always knew it was bad, but I struggle to understand just why this all happened.”

Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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