A fundraiser intended to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential school for children’s remains topped $100,000 Friday (June 4). Pictured is a church at Chawathil First Nation on Highway 1, on May 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

A fundraiser intended to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential school for children’s remains topped $100,000 Friday (June 4). Pictured is a church at Chawathil First Nation on Highway 1, on May 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

Fundraiser to search more B.C. residential schools tops $100,000

Indigenous leaders hope to use radar technology to search for lost children on Vancouver Island

A fundraiser created to fund the search of Vancouver Island’s five residential schools for the remains of lost Indigenous children has more than quadrupled its original goal.

Started Tuesday (June 1) by local Indigenous leaders Steve Sxwithul’txw, Tom LaFortune and Michelle Mundy, the fund aimed to raise $25,000 to purchase one ground-penetrating radar unit such as the one used to find the mass grave of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised over $100,000.

“It just gives us the ability to purchase more of those units,” Sxwithul’txw told Black Press Media.

The equipment sends signals into the soil and can detect if it has been disturbed, as it would have been to dig graves.

READ ALSO: Remains of 215 children found at former B.C. residential school an ‘unthinkable loss’

Sxwithul’txw said he has found a lot of anger, hurt and sorrow in those who have posted comments on the GoFundMe page.

One person wrote: “I am Aboriginal. My entire life I was teased, mocked and treated differently because of who I am and where I come from. It disgusts me that Canada’s government and many people are still treated poorly because of our heritage.”

Wrote another: “As a mother of three Metis (Cree), my children would have been taken, tortured and/or killed. This is for all the babies and children burned, killed or tortured and the ripple of pain of blood memories. Reconciliation is here and voice are no longer silenced! We hear your little ones … gone but never forgotten.”

Sxwithul’txw said he was heartened to see many other donor comments came from people who appeared to be non-Indigenous and were expressing their allyship. Comments include apologies, sympathy and calls to do better.

In an earlier interview, Sxwithul’txw said he thinks the next couple of years are going to be “country changing.”

READ ALSO: Indigenous leaders want Vancouver Island residential schools searched for victims

“I think we’re seeing the cusp of something much, much bigger and the realization that Canada has failed First Nations in more than one way – they’ve taken our lives,” he said.

Right now, Sxwithul’txw, LaFortune and Mundy are talking with First Nations from around the Island to respect their wishes and determine if and how they can search the residential school sites.

The fundraiser, called Find Our Lost Children, can be found at gofundme.com.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Sooke School District responds to heartbreak of residential schools with learning opportunities


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Greater VictoriaIndigenousresidential schoolsvancouverisland

Just Posted

Free Press Archives
From the Free Press Archives

In 2003, a drive-by pornography display on Highway 97 left the RCMP shaking their heads.

Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye, with youngest son, Erik, encourages young people in 100 Mile House to volunteer for things they are passionate about. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye, with her youngest son, Erik, encourages young people in 100 Mile House to volunteer for things they are passionate about. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sharing time and skills for a brighter future

Avid volunteer reflects on many reasons to contribute time to the community

An RCMP cruiser. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Boat and trailer stolen in 2017 found in 100 Mile House

Police received complaint from potential buyer

The BC Conservation Officer Service is investigating a dead fox found in a foothold trap. (File photo)
Conservation officers investigate dead fox in foothold trap

Residents reminded the traps are not allowed after March 31

An RCMP cruiser. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Off-duty officer intervenes following road rage incident

Two men involved in verbal altercation outside Mile 108 Elementary

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read