Indigenous artist carving 2,500 lb jade monument to honour residential school victims

Sep 22 2021, 10:52 pm

An Indigenous artist will be carving a 2,500 lb jade monument as a way to honour the survivors of the residential school system and the children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. 

The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of 215 unmarked graves on May 28, which was aided by ground-penetrating radar.

jade for carving

Vincent Chan/Invisionation Photography

The “No Children Will Be Forgotten” fundraiser, exhibit and art show will take place September 25 and 26 on Granville Island.

It’s hosted by Indigenous artist D’Arcy Basil and CMHC-Granville Island.

Basil is a Secwepemc/Coast Salish artist living on the unceded Musqueam traditional territory. 

He has a background in sculpting, stone carving, wood carving and his carvings and sculptures in wood, stone, and metal have been collected both locally and internationally. 

After the horrific discovery of unmarked graves in Kamloops, Tony Ritter, the co-owner of Cassiar Jade Contracting in Watson Lake, YT, contacted Basil to ask if he would be interested in the jade.

“As soon as I heard from Tony,  I sensed the need to create a memorial monument to honour and remember the Indigenous children that survived and those who died,” says Basil.

“I hope this can help contribute to some healing. My father went to that same school so I am aware of this horrible dark legacy and know the negative impact the Residential School has had on many generations.”

This fundraiser has gained support from artisans, non-profits, businesses, staff and management from across Granville Island, who came forward with donations of materials, labour, expertise, space and the planning required to make this happen.

Currently there are an additional two First Nations carvers on Granville Island, in space donated by CMHC.

The event will begin Saturday morning at 10am with opening prayers, blessing, and traditional territory acknowledgement by Elders Shane Point (Musqueam), and Kelly White  (Snuneymuxw).

Fundraiser and Art Show for IRSSS

Fundraiser and Art Show for IRSSS

There will also be silent auctions on both days, held from 10 am to 6 pm in the new “Hives for Humanity” parklet, in front of co-host, i.e. Creative Art Works  on Granville Island.

This event happens just days before Canada marks Truth and Reconciliation Day. It’s a day meant to commemorate the legacy of the residential school system and honour its survivors.

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