OC offers condolences to the Cowessess First Nation and all those impacted and in mourning

By College Relations | June 25, 2021

Text of "Every child matters" overlain on an orange background

This statement contains content about residential schools that we recognize may be triggering. If you need immediate emotional assistance or crisis support, please see the supports (bolded) below. 

Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people and our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc.

On Thursday, June 24, the Cowessess First Nation confirmed the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

On behalf of Okanagan College and the Board of Governors, we offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Cowessess First Nation and to the survivors, families and all those impacted by the legacy of harm, trauma, pain and suffering caused by the residential school system in Canada. Flags at Okanagan College campuses will remain at half-mast in memory of those who lost their lives and in recognition of the survivors and all those affected.

We recognize with concern and profoundly heavy hearts that this horrific news comes at a time when many Indigenous members of our internal community, and in communities in the region and across the province, are already in mourning. It comes a mere month after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced their discovery of the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Sadly, we know Syilx and Secwepemc children attended the Kamloops school and were among those who did not return. We cannot begin to convey our sorrow at how this new discovery at Marieval will likely redouble the pain and grief that so many in our learning community, and all around us, are experiencing.

If you need immediate support: you can access resources available to OC students, employees and the public on this webpage. There you will also find information and resources about the residential school system, survivor stories, Indigenous news and knowledge sources, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme has called the people of Canada to “stand by us as we heal.” To the Cowessess and to all those hurting, are hearts are with you, and our thoughts continue to go to the actions we can take to support reconciliation and healing.

As a college we are committed to continuing working with, learning from and listening to Indigenous communities, to supporting our Indigenous learners and employees and to infusing Indigenous knowledge into every aspect of what we do. We know that true progress in reconciliation will involve active two-way communication, sharing of knowledge and action.

On that note, we invite everyone to join us in taking action on the path toward reconciliation. Join us in reading and making a personal commitment to acting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action through the I Pledge Campaign. It is our sincere hope that what began as a space for our students and employees to voice their personal commitment to engaging with this important topic can provide a channel for others to do so as well.


Gloria Morgan
Chair, Okanagan College Board of Governors
Yawyawt all Xaxa7 t'e poonllp
(Strong and Smart Juniper)
Splatsina t'e Secwepemc

Neil Fassina
President, Okanagan College

Tags: Inside OC



Sign up for weekly stories


Minister and Mayor open Kelowna’s newest active transportation corridor for riders

June 14, 2022

The Casorso active transportation corridor (ATC) between Raymer Ave. and KLO Rd. is the latest addition to Kelowna’s cycling network and it is now ready for riders. The B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Honourable Rob Fleming, visited Okanagan College to recognize and celebrate the completion of this project. The College is one of the main destinations connected along the Ethel Casorso ATC corridor stretching from Downtown Kelowna to the Pandosy Urban Centre. “Having safe and convenient routes for walking, cycling and acti...

Animation student
Artistic students design future careers in animation

June 7, 2022

Grads of Okanagan College’s Animation Diploma program are finding their skills have never been in higher demand. First- and second-year students showed samples of their artwork and demo reels to industry partners at OC’s annual Animation Industry Night on May 17. “Lots of the work was very professional,” says James Wood, Chair of Okanagan College’s Animation Department. “Our program is short, but intense. The instructors make sure the students have a realistic understanding of what they need do to succeed in a competitive and demanding wo...

JAMK campus
OC Business students embrace international study again

May 30, 2022

Business students from Okanagan College are once again able to travel to Jyväskylä, Finland to experience an international summer school at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences.  Finland’s education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.  OC Business Professor Blair Baldwin, who has taught Services Design at JAMK for several summers, says working in Finland has helped him innovate and create new teaching methodologies. “JAMK employs experiential learning across its curriculum,” he says. “They stress critical thinkin...

Enactus 2022
Enactus Okanagan College tops the field, sets sights on national championships

May 27, 2022

Okanagan College students will once again be competing for the Canadian title after qualifying for the Enactus National Exposition with a first-place finish in their league during the semi-final round. Enactus teams at post-secondary institutions across Canada competed virtually earlier this month, and Okanagan College scooped up top position in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and runner-up in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge for the Unusually Good Food Co. project. It also included national runner-up in Shaw and RBC accelerators...