A ceremony was held in the centre of Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park. Hundreds of witnesses remained silent as a harmony of chants and drums boomed up the fire encircled by bright orange shirts. The vast majority of the crowd had never seen this before – burning ceremonies are restricted to Indigenous elders – but the discovery of a mass grave containing 215 children at Kamloops’ residential school caused an exception for the June 3 ceremony. / File Photo

A ceremony was held in the centre of Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park. Hundreds of witnesses remained silent as a harmony of chants and drums boomed up the fire encircled by bright orange shirts. The vast majority of the crowd had never seen this before – burning ceremonies are restricted to Indigenous elders – but the discovery of a mass grave containing 215 children at Kamloops’ residential school caused an exception for the June 3 ceremony. / File Photo

2021: The Year In Review – May to August

The Mission Record looks back on just some of the stories that made headlines in the past year

MAY

Coyote attack – A pack of coyotes attacked a woman hiking with her three dogs on April 25, before stalking her down the path until she could reach safety. Cindy Wade said the “shocking” encounter has given her anxiety about trekking a trail that’s been a part of her routine for a decade.

“I never saw it coming. I never heard it coming, ” Wade said. “The next thing I knew my feet were in the air I was just trying to figure out what had hit me.”

The incident is the latest in a massive spike of coyote attacks on humans over the winter.

CT scanner needed – The priority is getting a CT Scanner installed at Mission Memorial Hospital (MMH), but a delegation to council described how the community is getting left behind in terms of regional funding.

JUNE

Burning ceremony – A burning ceremony was held in the centre of Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park. Looking through the heat participants could see a distorted view of the rubble foundation of St. Mary’s Residential School.

Hundreds of witnesses remained silent as a harmony of chants and drums boomed up the fire encircled by bright orange shirts. The vast majority of the crowd had never seen this before – burning ceremonies are restricted to Indigenous elders – but the discovery of a mass grave containing 215 children at Kamloops’ residential school caused an exception for the June 3 ceremony.

“It was a shock to us. We were frightened. Just when we thought our pain was gone … Even though we’ve always known those kids were buried there,” said Hereditary Chief Clarke Smith of Samahquam Band. “We hope that they will help absorb some of our singing and drumming … This is a big day for them. After all these years they’ve been stuck.” Elders, many with tears in their eyes, some needing assistance from family members to walk towards the flames, offered food to the spirits who never made it home from residential schools.

New homes – Naomi Joseph stood outside with her daughter, looking at her new home. She wiped her eyes and waited for the ceremony to be completed and the keys to her new home to be handed over.

Joseph, a single mother of two young children and one adult child, is one of eight families on hand to celebrate the Habitat For Humanity Greater Vancouver new build project in Mission. The project will eventually consist of 19 homes in Mission to help families break out of the poverty-rent cycle.

JULY

Heat Wave – The Fraser Valley was hit with all-time temperature highs as a heatwave roasted the province, with people and pets struggling to find ways to cool off.

The Environment Canada station in Abbotsford recorded a high of 42.9 degrees on June 28, beating the previous record of 32.4 degrees, set in 2008. The highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was set in Lytton, B.C. – 47.9 degrees.

Fraser Health warned the scorching temperatures were potentially deadly, especially for the elderly, children and those with pre-existing health conditions or experiencing homelessness.

Time To Search – The Stó:lo Nation’s investigation to locate unmarked graves of Indigenous children who died at Fraser Valley residential schools is being developed.

Early estimates have it taking three years, requiring hundreds of hours of archival research, and using ground-penetrating radar on up to nine gravesites from three schools, according to David Schaepe, director and senior archaeologist of the Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre.

“It’s hard work to do. It’s sensitive work to do. And it’s time that we do it,” Schaepe said. “It’s having a huge impact on the Indigenous communities, and I think it’s having a huge impact on society – and it should.”

Radar scans have confirmed over 1,100 unmarked graves at five residential schools in three provinces since May 28.

Olympic dreams – Mission’s Olympic veterans Brent Hayden and Kim Gaucher are aiming for a place in history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Hayden, 37, narrowly missed his second bronze medal on July 25, but helped set a new national record.

Kim Graucher, also 37, is competing at her third Olympic games, having played for two decades on Canada’s national basketball team.

AUGUST

Park On Fire – A quick-moving fire erupted in the woods above Heritage Park on Aug. 3, forcing nearby residents to evacuate. Reports of smoke came in at around 10:40 a.m., said Assistant Fire Chief Nick Rychkun, who attended with the first responding crews in the area.

He said support helicopters from Coastal Wildfire Service (CWS) were immediately called because of the amount of smoke.

“Smoke was pouring through the middle of the park,” Rychkun said. “The issue we had was trying to locate it.”

Helping Lytton – Station Chief David Butterworth and his crew arrived at the outskirts of Lytton five hours after receiving the call from Mission’s fire chief.

“We were right at the head of it,” Butterworth said. “It’s pitch dark. We were one of the first trucks there.”

His team was one of two Mission Fire Rescue Service crews sent to Lytton to help contain the blaze which engulfed the small village in a matter of minutes. Each crew spent a week fighting the inferno.

Supportive Housing – Approximately 50 new supportive homes are to be developed in Mission for people experiencing homelessness, according to a joint announcement from the City of Mission, BC Housing and Mission Community Services Society (MCSS).

Dr. Humes Memorial Park will be transformed into modular homes for those currently, or at risk of, having no permanent shelter. The park was selected due its proximity to community and healthcare services, according to the release.

 

A pack of coyotes attacked a woman hiking with her three dogs. / File Photo

A pack of coyotes attacked a woman hiking with her three dogs. / File Photo

Mission’s Olympic veterans Brent Hayden and Kim Gaucher are aiming for a place in history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. / File Photo

Mission’s Olympic veterans Brent Hayden and Kim Gaucher are aiming for a place in history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. / File Photo

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