Splats’in Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian called it “Reconciliation in Action” on October 5th 2021, when students from Len Wood Middle School in Armstrong, BC, alongside teachers and volunteers , planted 215 trees at Pleasant Valley Wetland Heritage Park in Spallumcheen and participated in a ceremony to honor the memory of the Kamloops Industrial Residential School Secwepemc children.
Many more Reconciliation in Action projects surrounding the planting of native trees are planned for 2022 and beyond. The BC Small Wetlands Association will work with schools, with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Sicamous-Armstrong Rail Trail Group. We are providing trees through the Natural Resource Canada 2 Billion Trees initiative, collaborating with the Elders of the Secwepemc communities to create a Reconciliation in Action ceremony as part of tree planting events.
The Reconciliation in Action Tree Planting Events are not just for planting groves of 215 trees. Some schools will want only two or three larger trees, or a pocket forest consisting of a dense planting in a small area. There is no minimum for planting projects. We are providing nine species of trees, chosen for their traditional cultural importance, based on the knowledge of revered Secwépemc Elder Dr. Mary Thomas. Mary was a Kamloops Industrial Residential School survivor. Her work as an environmentalist was colored by her respect for mother nature and her understanding that no more should be taken from the earth than is truly needed—a philosophy she tried to pass on to future generations. She was concerned about preserving and protecting traditional plants so they would be there for future generation, but she was also concerned about broader environmental issues as well – protection of the air, the earth, the water and the animals. Mary talked about Reconciliation in Action more than twenty years ago. She founded the Switzmalph Cultural Society in 2001 to create cultural bridges because she recognized that all people, both indigenous and non-indigenous, must work together to deal with conservation and environmental issues regardless of their cultural background, as everyone is equally affected by threats to mother earth.