Tseshaht AIRS (Alberni Indian Residential School Project)

ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin (“Doing it for our Ancestors”)

The Client

ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin (the Tseshaht phrase meaning “Doing it for our Ancestors”) is a project led by Tseshaht First Nation.

The project team was tasked with scanning and researching potential unmarked grave sites at the former Alberni Indian Residential School located on their traditional territory in Port Alberni, BC.

The Project

Focusing on Survivors, loved ones and members, the Nation approached the project with great care and put wellness and culture at the forefront.

c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation assumed the responsibility of providing updates and information about the research and scanning happening at the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) site to Survivors, intergenerational survivors, community members and at times, the general public. Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, communications were prioritized to Survivors and members, and presented in a compassionate and culturally respectful manner, acknowledging the trauma and lived experiences of AIRS Survivors and their loved ones.

As a member of the project team, we worked to create a suite of creative and strategic PR and communications materials to support the project, which included a communications strategy, a range of print and digital materials, as well as media relations and day-of-announcement support. Whenever possible, capacity building and training were integrated into the creation and delivery of these projects.

The Outcome

On February 21, 2023, the Nation held their findings announcements. Over 40 articles were written across 25 media outlets, garnering national coverage. More than 1,000 people watched the announcement through a Facebook Live stream, and the Nation also received a number of statements and letters of support from both government and non-governmental organizations. Survivors, members and visiting Nations members were honoured with a cultural ceremony and health and wellness support.

We were honoured to be asked to be part of the team to do this important work. The power of PR and communications was leveraged for good so that the Survivors and the Nation could have power over their own narrative and could lead the way for public awareness of what happened at residential schools in Canada.

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 former AIRS site.

We’re ready to raise your voice.