Education about residential schools brings students to Towne Theater for documentary – Vernon News

Learning about the truth

School students from across the Vernon area learned this week about the pain of Canada’s residential school system.

Along with in-class lessons, busloads of students converged on the Towne Theater downtown to view the documentary The Secret Path.

The film was created by Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip and Jeff Lemire.

More than 1,600 students registered to see it.

The film tells the story through music and animation of Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who died in 1966 while walking the railroad tracks in attempt to escape the Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Ontario.

Sheryl Newton with School District 22’s Indigenous education department also offered authentic cleansing smudging rituals after the film for those students who wished to do so.

The sage smudging was to “alleviate the heaviness” of what the students had just witnessed, she said, and to “clear bad energy.”

In the ceremony, students take the smoke over their head, face, heart and down to their feet to promote “good thoughts, feelings and actions.”

The weeklong events at the theater coordinated with National Truth and Reconciliation Day, which is today.

Events will be taking place across the country, including a memorial walk in Enderby by members of the Splatsin First Nation.