I·SPARC: Honouring Residential School Survivors and Children Who Did Not Make It Home

Press Release

Orange Shirt Day – 2021 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

A time to honour and uplift Survivors of residential schools

Today, September 30, 2021, we take time to honour the lost children, Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.

We, at I·SPARC, understand that the tragic and painful history and reality of residential schools continues to have ongoing negative impacts on our peoples, families, and communities.

Through sport, physical activity, and recreation, we can come together unified in strength to heal the intergenerational impacts of colonialism.

To commemorate the day, we honour the members of our I·SPARC family  who are residential school Survivors:  Alex Nelson (Ok’wilagame’), Louise Ormerod and Wally Samuel (ciiqmaʔuhk). Today and every day, we pray for their strength and healing. We blanket them with our love and support and we raise our hands and uplift them for their continued dedication to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, families, and communities.

Alex Nelson (Ok’wilagame’)is from the Musgamagwx-Dzawada’enux Nation and is an Elder and Senior Advisor for I·SPARC. Alex has been working with Indigenous peoples and communities in sport for over 40 years.

Louise Ormerod is Cree and is a member of I·SPARC’s Board of Directors. At residential school, Louise participated in large group activities, including Judo. Continuing the practice of sport within her family, each of her five children excel in sport.

Wally Samuel (ciiqmaʔuhk) is from the Ahousaht Nation and is also member of I·SPARC’s Board of Directors. Wally is a former athlete and has been a coach for over 50 years.

Learn more about Alex, Louise and Wally below.

“Having spent 7 years in Alert Bay Residential School, I now understand and have the freedom to counter the negative intergenerational effects for my Children, Grandchildren, and my Great Grandchildren.” – Alexander Nelson (Ok’wilagame’) of the Musgamagwx-Dzawada’enux Nation pictured with Great Grandson Marcus (Kasalas) Nelson of the Namgis/Squamish/Cowichan/Musgamagwx-Dzawada’enux Nations

“My experience in the Prince Albert Indian Residential School from 1961-1979 is not the same as anybody else’s story. All of us who attended Residential School have a different story to tell. My story has led my direction and passions of my life as a mother, educator and administrator. Resilience has enabled the survivor to endure, to persevere, to make things better in the midst of pain, to seek meaning and hope, as we continue with life. That is resiliency of a Residential School Survivor.”  – Louise Ormerod, Cree

“Both survivors of Alberni Residential School, we have been supporting youth in sports and healthy living since 1981. By volunteering with training, coaching and creating opportunities for youth to participate in sports. Providing moral support and encouragement to try their best, play hard and have fun.” – Wally Samuel (ciiqmaʔuhk) of Ahousaht Nation pictured with Wife Donna nee Marsden, a Gitxsan of Gitanyow

On behalf of the I·SPARC family, we send our love, prayers, and support to Alex, Louise, Wally, and all residential school Survivors. Thank you for your continued dedication to the health and wellbeing of our peoples, families, and communities.

Available Supports

We want to acknowledge that although this time can be inspiring as we see our collective path forward, it can also be difficult, exhausting and triggering. We encourage you to take the time you need to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Culturally safe resources and supports available toll-free 24-hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • IRSSS Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line—1-866-925-4419
  • Métis Crisis Line—1-833-METISBC/1-833-638-4722
  • KUU-US—Indigenous Crisis Response Services—1-800-588-8717


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