Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have unveiled a new Stop of Interest sign to acknowledge the horrific impact the Kamloops Indian Residential School has had on several generations of Secwépemc children and families.
“The Stop of Interest sign is significant in acknowledging and honouring the residential school and day scholar survivors,” said Chief Rosanne Casimir.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School was established in 1893 and remained open until 1977. Thousands of Secwepémc children between the ages of four and 15 were forcibly taken from their families and prohibited from practicing their language, culture and traditions.
“This was a dark time in our province’s history,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Although markers like these can be painful reminders of historical wrongs, they also provide an opportunity to recognize past mistakes and educate future generations. It is important that we acknowledge the existence of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and the tragic impact it has had, and continues to have, on the Secwepémc people.”
Attendance at the school was compulsory by law. Parents were intimidated and threatened with prison if they refused to allow their children to attend. Secwepémc children lived at the school from September to June and were alienated from family relationships, cultural and spiritual practices and teachings. They suffered all forms of abuse. The children were forbidden to speak Secwepemctsín and were severely punished when they did speak the language.
The new Stop of Interest sign was created in collaboration with the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc and approved by the Chief and Council.
- British Columbia’s Stop of Interest signs were first displayed on provincial routes in 1958 to share stories of the people, places and events that helped shape B.C.’s history.
- In 2016, the B.C. government launched an initiative to rejuvenate the existing signs and invited the public to submit ideas for new signs, resulting in over 500 nominations.
- Nineteen new signs have been installed since 2016. The ministry will continue adding new signs as consultation is completed, to ensure everyone can continue to stop and learn about B.C. as they travel on provincial routes.
For more information on B.C.’s Stop of Interest signs: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/stop-of-interest