Hundreds of motorcycle riders rally for residential school survivors on Vancouver Island
Published Monday, June 21, 2021 12:40PM PDT
VICTORIA -- Hundreds of motorcycles revved up on Vancouver Island over the weekend to raise awareness for the 215 children who were buried at a former Kamloops residential school site, and to show support for survivors.
On Sunday, residential school survivors, alongside their families and supporters, gathered in Duncan for the rally.
"Today, we ride for them and we ride for all the Indigenous Peoples, and we ride for justice," said organizer Kelli Symonds, before the riders headed off on a 160 kilometre ride across the South Island.
Before the ride began, Victoria Orange Shirt Day organizer and residential school survivor Eddie Charlie sold T-shirts in support of the campaign.
"It's not just a story. It's real," said Charlie. "Children were starved, physically abused, and many of them sexually assaulted."
"So the 215 children is not only the biggest wake up call for Canada, but for our people too, and it gives us the opportunity to talk about our own experience," he said.
Sunday's motorcycle procession was led by survivors, with family and friends following closely behind.
The sight was an emotional one for Charlie.
"Very moving," he said. "As somebody who was taken away from home as a very tiny child, having an opportunity to see people honour the residential school experience – it's very moving and I can't raise my hands high enough to all the people who came."
Riders cruised from Duncan to Sidney and back again before an afternoon healing ceremony and moment of silence took place.