The Syilx Indian Residential School Monument is dedicated to all Syilx (Okanagan) people who went to Indian Residential School, especially to those who did not make it home.
On November 28, 2017, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) unveiled the Syilx/Okanagan Indian Residential School Monument. The Monument houses a series of five educational panels and a sculptural work, and is open to visit for all people interested educating themselves about the Indian Residential School experience.
The Monument is a testament to what our people have endured—a tribute to our strength and resiliency. The Indian Residential School system significantly impacted the Syilx/Okanagan Nation and the effects continue to be felt today. It serves to educate our people and others about the tragedy and inhumanity our children experienced through Indian Residential Schools era in Canada.
It is located next to the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery in Penticton. The location was chosen as it is where the train and the cattle trucks came to gather our children to take them away to Indian Residential School.
At the center of the Monument is a sculpture titled ‘kʷu səckm̓antaʔx iʔ scəcmalaʔtət k̓l citxʷtət (Bringing Our Kids Home)’ by ‘Smoker’ Virgil Marchand (2017)
Marchand is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and is a survivor of the Indian Residential School system at St. Mary’s Mission boarding school in Omak Washington. He is a self-taught artist whose practice is based on bronze and steel works. This sculpture is significant in that it honours the many ways in which we are calling those children who had been torn away from our communities back, to heal and move forward.
“I will always embrace the natural elements of my culture and heritage and share my art talents with others whenever I can. I know how much it helped me, and how it took a troubled youth and made him a person others respect and admire. If my experiences, trials and errors can contribute to bringing out the talents of others, than I have truly appreciated the spirit of the gift art has given me.” ‘Smoker’ Virgil Marchand
Please be advised that this monument contains subject matter that may be disturbing. Please consider having someone share your visit with you. If you need supports, please access mental wellness resources in your community.