Upcoming event: Slave Lake healing prayer and walk for residential school survivors

Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

On June 2 at 5:30 p.m., the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre is holding a time of prayer, songs, and drumming for healing, says Barb Courtorielle, executive director of the Friendship Centre. It is a “culturally appropriate way” to respond to the trauma raised by the unearthing of 215 children in unmarked graves found in a Kamloops residential school.

Many of the elders who use the Friendship Centre are residential school survivors, says Courtorielle. They are struggling.

Slave Lake and area residential school survivors are struggling, Courtorielle told the Leader. They had just started to heal after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“This just brings it all back for them,” she adds. “This is not an easy time for them.”

Courtorielle’s step dad was at a residential school for nine years, but spent all of his time working and “never did go to school,” Courtorielle says. “It’s really heartbreaking.”

Her step father is now deceased, but Courtorielle has received many calls from local Indigenous seniors who attended residential schools. 

Residential school survivors who are struggling can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

The healing time at the Friendship Centre will be livestreamed on Facebook. It is also right before a memorial walk organized by the Town of Slave Lake. This is so people can participate in both.

Memorial walk

On June 2 at 6 p.m., the Town of Slave Lake is organizing a memorial walk and acknowledgement of the 215 Kamloops residential school victims recently discovered in unmarked graves. 

At the memorial, masks and 6 feet of distance are mandatory, says the poster. Also, orange shirts are recommended. The walk begins at the Legacy Centre and ends up at the Town of Slave Lake office. 

The Business Factory in Slave Lake also has orange shirts available as a fundraiser for the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.


Jenna Jackson is collecting children’s shoes for a memorial at the Town of Slave Lake steps. She plans to set it up at 4 p.m. on June 2, so people interested in donating or lending shoes can contact her via Facebook before then.

“The Friendship Centre staff and board thanks everyone for this huge recognition of our lost and missing children,” Courtorielle on Facebook. 

These are a few of the ways that people have responded locally. See next week’s Leader for more information. 

Various Slave Lake and Smith schools held memorial events on May 31 for the 215 children found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops residential school.
Pictured here, Hudson Ghostkeeper, Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School Grade 2 student, releases orange butterflies as part of the Koinonia’s residential school memorial service on May 31. The students raised the butterflies as a school project over the previous four weeks.
Ghostkeeper’s great-grandparents Eleanor and Joe Sawan both attended residential schools, says Koinonia principal Elizabeth Lund.

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