Tseshaht AIRS (Alberni Indian Residential School Project)

ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin (“Doing it for our Ancestors”)

The Client

ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin (the Nuu-chah-nulth word meaning “Doing it for our Ancestors”) is a project led by Tseshaht First Nation.

The project goal is to locate unmarked graves at the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) site and reclaim lost souls by creating connections with the ancestors of those who did not return home. The team also focused on providing wellness support to survivors who generously and courageously shared their stories and experiences. ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin is guided by wellness, support and cultural values, putting survivors and the community first.

The Challenge

c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation assumed the responsibility of providing updates and information about the research and scanning happening at the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) site to members and the general public. Due to the subject matter, communication was prioritized to survivors and members and was presented in a compassionate and culturally appropriate manner, respecting the trauma and lived experiences of AIRS survivors and their families. Making materials inclusive to elders and various education levels to ensure they are accessible to all members was also important. 50th drafted community notices, FAQs documents and media releases that included trigger warnings and cultural, wellness and mental health support to inform Nation members and the general public at every phase of the project.

The Nation’s first phase announcement required media and event support, as well as the creation of a slide deck presentation, graphics and media relations pieces. Our team was honoured to support Tseshaht First Nation and the ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin project team in their Phase 1 preliminary findings announcement and communications.

The Results & Impact

It was essential that c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation members had an opportunity to be informed about the research and scanning happening in their community before it was released to the public. Community notices were created ahead of each step in the process and delivered to members in advance of the work taking place. A Frequently Asked Questions document was also provided in an effort to answer any questions members may have about the scanning, ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin project partners and the project overall.

A number of posters and graphics were created for digital and print purposes to let the community know about upcoming project update sessions.

When the ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin project team was ready to release preliminary findings from the research and scanning at AIRS, the 50th team provided support through media relations, the creation of a presentation and numerous graphics and supporting resources. Over 40 articles were written after the announcement across more than 25 media outlets, garnering national coverage.

Over 1,000 people watched the announcement through a Facebook Live stream. The Nation also received a number of statements and letters of support from both government and non-governmental organizations.

Since partnering with c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation and the ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin project team, we have successfully expanded their reach, sharing the story of the history of AIRS with a wide audience. Through this effective storytelling, we have helped the Nation to change the narrative of the AIRS site.

We’re ready to raise your voice.