Our children, our future: the Indian Child Caravan 40 years later

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and Kukpi7 (Chief) Christian and the Splatsin community are collaborating on an exhibition and publication to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Indian Child Caravan. 

In April 1980, the Spallumcheen Band Chief and Council passed a by-law for the care of children in their community [A By-law for the Care of our Indian Children: Spallumcheen Indian Band By-law #3 – 1980]. The by-law was passed in reaction to an alarmingly high percentage of Indigenous children being removed from their homes by non-band agencies.

The Spallumcheen Band recognized the vital importance of the children to the community and wished to assert their authority to care for their children and find suitable solutions and arrangements within their own community and resort to non-Indian placement only as a last resort. The Indian Child Caravan was a march and demonstration that took place over the Thanksgiving weekend, October 9-13, 1980.  

The Caravan began in Prince George, BC continuing to pick up additional people along its route, advancing to Williams Lake and Mount Currie and merged with people from the Interior and Vancouver Island communities, culminating with a rally in Vancouver. The Caravan eventually lead to the home of the Minister of Social Services for the province of BC at the time, the Honourable Grace McCarthy. A subsequent meeting between Grace McCarthy, Kukpi7 (Chief) Christian and the Band lead to an agreement that gave the Spallumcheen control over their own child welfare program. 

Launching in fall 2020, the exhibition will serve to educate the wider public about this pivotal event in the history of Indigenous child welfare in Canada and its longstanding implications for advocacy and awareness in the area of child/youth welfare.

Check back for updates!