Summerland Mayor Toni Boot has called the graffiti painted on a reconciliation-themed mural a display of hate against Indigenous people.
The mural on the wall of the tennis court at Summerland Secondary School was spray-painted with bright pink paint. The damage was discovered on May 10 in the late afternoon.
Students at the high school created the mural in the fall of 2021, around the time of the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. It features the words “Every Child Matters” in English, French, Cree and Syilx. It also contains hundreds of handprints from students and from members of the community.
Boot said the vandalism is appalling and disgusting because of the message in the mural. As a result, she said the damage should not be seen as an ordinary case of vandalism.
“It could have been put on a random wall — except that it wasn’t,” she said. “This is about hate against Indigenous people.”
Boot said one of Summerland council’s priorities is to have community conversations about racism.
In late May, 2021, the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops confirmed that the remains of 215 children who were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School had been found at the school site. Similar burial sites were found at other residential schools, the bodies found numbering in the thousands across Canada.
The schools were funded by the federal government’s Department of Indian Affairs and were administered by churches.
Boot added that the vandalism of the mural is also disturbing because the piece was created by students at the high school, to promote a message of reconciliation. Grade 12 students Emilia Tolnai, Madeline Carlson and Kira Nilson created the mural, with assistance from the high school’s leadership class.
“This was a project undertaken by high school students,” Boot said. “To me, that makes it worse.”
This mural is one of two in Summerland with a message of inclusion. Both were created in 2021. The other mural, high on the wall of Summerland Middle School, has not been vandalized.
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