PHOTOS: Crowd gathers outside of Westbank First Nation office for Caravan in Unity to Kamloops

Westbank First Nation (WFN) councillor Jordan Coble plays a drum song outside of the WFN office in Kelowna near Highway 97 on June 26. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)Westbank First Nation (WFN) councillor Jordan Coble plays a drum song outside of the WFN office in Kelowna near Highway 97 on June 26. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Syilx Elder and Okanagan language teacher Rose Caldwell says a prayer prior to the Kelowna convoy departure. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)Syilx Elder and Okanagan language teacher Rose Caldwell says a prayer prior to the Kelowna convoy departure. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
“We Were Children” is written on the hood of a car participating in the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)“We Were Children” is written on the hood of a car participating in the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
WFN chief Christopher Derickson ties an orange ribbon to his car. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)WFN chief Christopher Derickson ties an orange ribbon to his car. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
“Every Child Matters” is written on the window of a car, with the WFN office in the background. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)“Every Child Matters” is written on the window of a car, with the WFN office in the background. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
After the Kelowna convoy left, some people stayed behind and waved as cars drove by on Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)After the Kelowna convoy left, some people stayed behind and waved as cars drove by on Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
An Anishinaabe woman named Rhonda sings a song as cars drive by on Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)An Anishinaabe woman named Rhonda sings a song as cars drive by on Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
WFN councillor Jordan Coble performs a drum song prior to the departure of the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)WFN councillor Jordan Coble performs a drum song prior to the departure of the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
WFN councillor Jordan Coble performs a drum song near Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)WFN councillor Jordan Coble performs a drum song near Highway 97. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
An Indigenous woman and child share a moment following the departure of the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)An Indigenous woman and child share a moment following the departure of the Kelowna convoy. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Dozens of people from all ages and backgrounds gathered outside of the Westbank First Nation (WFN) office in Kelowna on Saturday (June 26), which served as one of five caravan start points for the Caravan in Unity convoy event that eventually made its way to the site of the former Kamloops Residential School later that day.

People began convening at the site, located just off of Highway 97, at around 9:15 a.m., as they waited to hit the road with a group travelling up the highway from a Penticton caravan start point.

At around 9:50 a.m., the group in Kelowna joined the Penticton convoy and embarked towards the remaining caravan start points in Coldstream, Westwold and Kamloops. Some stayed behind — many of whom were wearing orange shirts — to wave at cars passing by on the highway.

READ MORE: Photos: For the Children Caravan leaves Penticton for Kamloops

Before departing from Kelowna, a prayer was said by Elder Rose Caldwell, an Okanagan language teacher, which was then followed by a speech made by WFN chief Christopher Derickson and a drum song performed by WFN councillor Jordan Coble.

Derickson said that the purpose of the Caravan in Unity event was to honour the 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, and for the recent discovery of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

“That’s why we’re here today; to remember them, to honour them, but then to remember the generations that are coming ahead of us,” said Derickson.

He told the crowd Canada needs to change.

“It’s time for this nation to wake up and realize it’s a racist nation. Indigenous peoples have been fighting for equality and our rights for generations, and it’s about time we had to stop fighting and Canada would just recognize that we are here, we’re here to stay,” he said.

Indigenous children, he continued, won’t be taken away again.

“We’re going to make this nation better, because this is our nation,” he said. “We were here first. We’ve always been here and we will always be here.”

The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be reached at 1-866-925-4419

READ MORE: PHOTOS: More than 100 gather to form Kelowna convoy for Kamloops 215


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