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Summerland mural has truth and reconciliation theme

Students at Summerland Secondary School leave hand prints on mural
Madeline Carlson, left, Kira Nilson and Emilia Tolnai show a mural with a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation theme. The mural is at the tennis courts at Summerland Middle School. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

A large mural with a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation theme has been painted on the wall at the tennis courts at Summerland Secondary School.

The mural features hundreds of hand prints and the words, “Every child matters,” in English French, Cree and Syilx.

Emilia Tolnai, Madeline Carlson and Kira Nilson, Grade 12 students at the high school, began work on the project on Sept. 23, a week before the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

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Members of the high school leadership class also helped with the painting.

Tolnai said the purpose of the mural was to present a message connected to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

“We’re not trying to tell someone else’s story,” she said.

The students added that they worked to present the mural with sensitivity. They sought out people fluent in Indigenous languages to ensure the wording was accurate.

The hand prints are from students and staff at the school. In the coming days, hand prints from students at Summerland Middle School will be added to the mural.

The hand prints are in honour of the hundreds of Indigenous children who died while in the care of residential schools across Canada.

Earlier this year, the remains of 215 children were found buried at the site of one residential school near Kamloops. Similar burial sites have been found at other former residential schools since then.

At present, around 450 hand prints are on the mural, Tolnai said. The students are encouraging others from the school and from the community to leave their hand prints on the mural.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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