Floyd Pelkey, left of the Tsawout Nation and Eugene Sam of the Songhees Nation tend the sacred fire at the University of Victoria. The fire, which honours the memory of the 215 Indigenous children lost at a Kamloops residential school, is being kept burning through Friday (June 4). (Photo by Louise Major/UVic Photo Services)

Floyd Pelkey, left of the Tsawout Nation and Eugene Sam of the Songhees Nation tend the sacred fire at the University of Victoria. The fire, which honours the memory of the 215 Indigenous children lost at a Kamloops residential school, is being kept burning through Friday (June 4). (Photo by Louise Major/UVic Photo Services)

Sacred fire burns at University of Victoria to honour 215 children

Everyone is welcome to sit by the fire, or lay down prayers or medicine

A sacred fire burns at the University of Victoria to offer support and to honour the memory of 215 children whose unmarked graves were found by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

The June 1 lighting ceremony, following local protocols and streamed online as only 50 people could attend, included a welcome to the territory, singing and drumming from nations across Vancouver Island and concluded with two minutes and 15 seconds of silence at 2:15 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to sit by the fire, or lay down prayers or medicine. It will be kept going 24 hours a day until Friday, June 4 at noon. There are blank cards to write messages to the children and a container at the fire to leave the messages to be burned in the fire. Smudge bowl and medicine kits are also available.

RELATED: Remains of 215 children found at former B.C. residential school an ‘unthinkable loss’

Across the nation, flags are flying at half-mast for 215 hours to honour and remember the 215 children. At UVic the flags will remain lowered until further notice.

Historically, Indigenous people were mistreated in Canada’s education system – experiences documented through information gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On Vancouver Island, more than 200 children are known to have lost their lives at residential schools.

“This is a time of deep grief and sadness for Indigenous students, staff and faculty. We are working to support the UVic Elders through this very difficult time, and I ask each of us to offer support to our colleagues and friends who are affected by this news. Your support can and should include the flexibility required to attend to their ceremonial and community needs, to grieve and support others in their lives,” UVic president Kevin Hall said.

UVic is also lighting the Mearns Centre-McPherson Library and university road entrances in orange as a visible symbol of awareness of the need for ongoing reconciliation. The use of orange is connected to Orange Shirt Day.

RELATED: Residential school survivor calling for Canada-wide search of sites after remains of 215 children found

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society offers toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1-866-925-4419. Alternately, you can reach out the KUU-US Crisis Line Society 24-hour line at 1-800-588-8717.

oak bayUVic

Just Posted

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Days after students’ return to Victoria High School was delayed by a year, the province has announced some amenities that will be included in the school’s expansion project. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Child-care spots, artificial turf field, non-profit space included in Vic High expansion

SD61 now aims to welcome students back at the high school by September 2023

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Langley’s Lisa Roman (L) and Andrea Proske will be rowing for Canada. (file)
Lisa Roman and Andrea Proske named to women’s eight Olympic rowing team

Part of Canada’s largest team since Atlanta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read