Harrison Hot Springs school apologizes, postpones ‘O Canada’ filming amid grief over Indigenous lives lost

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary School issued this apology following the announcement of plans to film a music video of students wearing red and white, singing ‘O Canada’ for the village’s upcoming virtual Canada Day celebration. The filming has since been canceled until further notice. (Facebook/Harrison Hot Springs ElementaryHarrison Hot Springs Elementary School issued this apology following the announcement of plans to film a music video of students wearing red and white, singing ‘O Canada’ for the village’s upcoming virtual Canada Day celebration. The filming has since been canceled until further notice. (Facebook/Harrison Hot Springs Elementary
A deleted June 1 post of Harrison Hot Springs Elementary’s plans to film an ‘O Canada’ music video for the village’s virtual Canada Day celebration. School officials have since apologized and canceled the event. (Facebook/Harrison Hot Springs Elementary)A deleted June 1 post of Harrison Hot Springs Elementary’s plans to film an ‘O Canada’ music video for the village’s virtual Canada Day celebration. School officials have since apologized and canceled the event. (Facebook/Harrison Hot Springs Elementary)

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary officials have apologized and postponed a music video project for Canada Day as the Indigenous community mourns the recent findings of a mass grave at a former residential school site in Kamloops.

The since-deleted post, made by the school on June 1, said the “O Canada” music video would be shot this week, ahead of the village’s virtual Canada Day celebration. Students were asked to bring and change into red or white shirts.

Fraser Cascade district students and staff are wearing orange throughout the week to honour the children’s memory, but HHSES officials said the timing of the event was inappropriate and it has been canceled until further notice.

“Asking students to wear a red shirt to perform the song was disrespectful to our Indigenous community, who are currently mourning the loss of the 215 lost children who were recently discovered at the Kamloops Residential School,” the apology reads.

RELATED: Agassiz-Harrison, local First Nations grieve for residential school victims

“We will continue to move forward in our support of our Indigenous community and the principles of truth and reconciliation and sincerely apologize that the event was planned on this day.”

The Observer has reached out to the elementary school for further comment, including any specific plans to honour National Indigenous History Month.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery of the mass grave on May 27. The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969, where as many as 500 children were enrolled at one time.

RELATED: Kamloops discovery ‘ripped scab off’ residential-school wounds: Semiahmoo First Nation chief

The federal government took over the Kamloops school from the Catholic church and ran it as a day school until its closure in 1978. There are records of at least 51 children dying at the school between 1915 and 1963.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering 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.


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