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Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle – Feb 12, 2014

Kuper Island

“Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle”

They called it Alcatraz.  It was the Kuper Island Residential School and it stood on a remote island off the coast of Vancouver Island.  For almost a century hundreds of Coast Salish children were sent to Kuper Island where they were forbidden to speak their native language, forced to replace their cultural heritage with the Anglo-Christian culture and often faced with physical and sexual abuse.  Some died trying to escape on logs across the water.  Many more died later, trying to escape their memories.  Metis filmmaker Christine Welsh and Peter C. Campbell join survivors of the school, 20 years after its closure, as they embark on an extraordinary healing journey.

Traditional welcome by T’sou-ke Nation Chief Gordie Planes and Elder Shirley Alphonse.

Film Producer Peter Campbell will be attending the screeningPost screening discussion and slide show will include residential school survivors Alex Nelson and Belvie Brebber.  Alex went to St. Michael’s School in Alert Bay run by the Anglican Church and Belvie went to the Kuper Island school discussed in the film.  Elder Shirley Alphonse will bring healing words and will offer smudging to anyone attending.  And she will explain what smudging is. Carey Newman will speak about his Witness Blanket art project  Members of the audience who would like to share stories of his or her time at a residential school are encouraged to do so.  For everyone else, no action required.  A time for listening.


The Feb. 12 evening on residential schools was very moving and very beautiful. There were around 150 people there and many had journeyed from other places in the region to sit with this story of children plucked from their homes and transplanted into a foreign, regimented and generally inhospitable environment to try and grow, and the effects it has had on them and on future generations. Many thanks to Edith Newman for bringing the evening together and to T’sou-ke Chief Gordie Planes, Elder Shirley Alphonse, Carey Newman (, Peter Campbell, Belvie Brebber and Alex Nelson and everyone else who added his or her voice to the remarkable conversation that happened before and after the screening.
And to all who came and listened and gave space.

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