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

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A section of proposed Harbourfront Walkway between White Eagle Terrace and Battersea Road. (City of Nanaimo image)
Nanaimo’s proposed walkway extension project estimated at $25-30 million

City asking for feedback on concepts to connect Departure Bay Beach and ferry terminal

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Most Read