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Cougars, Lheidli T'enneh team up in tribute to residential school survivors

Memorial plaque, First Nation flag, player decals will serve as reminder of discovery of remains of 215 children at Kamloops residential school

The Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and the Prince George Cougars have teamed up on several initiatives to acknowledge the discovery of the remains of 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School and to those impacted by residential schools.

Lheidli T’enneh elder Clifford Quaw spoke Friday to the Cougar players about his experiences as a Lejac residential school survivor. A memorial panel has been installed in the CN Centre concourse and Cougar players will wear an orange decal on their helmets throughout the season to honour those impacted by residential schools.

Mayor Lyn Hall was presented with a new Lheidli T’enneh First Nation memorial flag to be displayed inside CN Centre rink

“(Friday’s) announcement is significant as it comes one day after Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation,” said LTFN chief Dolleen Logan. “Today is about seeing reconciliation in action. The PG Cougars contacted us soon after the news broke in late May about the discovery of the remains of the 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School. Meetings were held during the summer to explore initiatives to acknowledge the 215 kids and their families, and all Indigenous people impacted by residential schools. Together we determined that it was important for the Cougars players and staff to learn more about residential schools and who better to learn from than Elder Clifford Quaw, a survivor of the Lejac Residential School.

“We also thought a memorial panel inside CN Centre was appropriate so that there is a visual reminder for Cougars fans and patrons of other events. We want to thank the PG Cougars for reaching out to us and today marks the official beginning the beginning of new partnership that we hope lasts many years.”

Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president, business, said the hockey club wanted to be proactive in teaming up with the Lheidli T’enneh on a public awareness project. The remains of the 215 children were announced on May 27 by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation when the mass grave was found using ground-penetrating radar.

 “Everyone connected with our hockey club was shaken by the news of the discovery of the remains of the 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School,” said Beesley. “Instead of expressing our condolences via social media we decided to reach out to our host First Nation, the Lheidli T’enneh, and seek guidance on how best acknowledge the children and their families.

“The panel mentioned by Chief Logan will serve as a permanent reminder here at CN Centre of this period in Canadian history. We are pleased that we reached out to the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation for help and even more pleased that they agreed to provide us with guidance.”