The Eayem Memorial met with an official restoration and unveiling at its site in Yale on Saturday. The historic moment was hosted by Yale First Nation Chief, Ken Hansen, councilors Pedro Moreno and Vanessa Peters in collaboration with the Sto:lo Nation Chiefs Council and the Sto:lo Research & Resource Management Center.
An act of vandalism on behalf of Yale First Nation members many years ago, left the monument desecrated, causing a rift between fellow Sto:lo members
“With respect to the destruction of the cemetery monument, I was one of the Yale First Nation members involved. I have lived with the effects for years, not knowing who was affected or how my actions have affected them,” said Hansen. “Today I heard from individuals about the pain they have suffered, but their generous display of forgiveness and acceptance proves that our culture is still alive and well.”
The healing ceremony commenced with traditional regalia as the Sto:lo Nation (which includes Yale First Nation members) put forward the intention for peace and forgiveness between its members. The band leaders stood stoically in front of the memorial as they embraced each other and attending members in an act of love and reconciliation.
The Eayem Memorial, also goes by the name Solkweyem, which means monument. The memorial was erected in the cemetery at Bell Crossing, within the Fraser Canyon of the Sto:lo Fishery.
The inscription on the monument reads: 1938 A.D. Erected by the Stallo Indians in memory of many hundreds of our forefathers buried here. This is one of six ancient cemeteries within our five mile native fishing grounds which we inherited from our ancestors.
“As current Chief of Yale First Nation, I hope to provide an example for those who wish to heal from past experiences through acknowledgment, acceptance and action, as I believe this is the only way we can move forward as a community. I thank all who attended the ceremony and look forward to developing relationships built on equality and respect for one another.”