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Tseshaht First Nation: AIRS 50 Years Closed Commemoration

Press Release

August 31, 2023

RE: 50th Anniversary of Closing the Alberni Indian Residential School & National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

On July 3, 1973 the Nuu-chah-nulth leadership from the West Coast District Council of Indian Chiefs, which later became Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council sent a letter to the Department of Indian Affairs that firmly propositioned the closure of the then Alberni Student Residence, which was formerly Alberni Indian Residential School. This letter signed by the West Coast Council’s Chairman, George Watts, led to a historical meeting between Canada and Nuu-chah-nulth leaders demanding the closure. On August 31, 1973, the Alberni Indian Residential School closed its doors, FOREVER!

Over the last 50 years Survivors of the Indian Residential School system have been creating paths for others to follow in areas of healing and wellness, and culture and language revitalization. Former residential school buildings have been reused and renovated, torn down, and replaced and some still remain. Nevertheless, today we plan to celebrate, commemorate, and come together as one because,


On September 30, 2023, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Tseshaht First Nation, the AIRS caretaker community, invites you to join us to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the closing of the Alberni Indian Residential School. The day will begin by gathering at the Best Western Barclay Hotel at 10:00 am, where a showing of AIRS student art will be displayed. From there we invite you to walk with us starting at 11:00 am to the Maht Mahs Gymnasium where, we will host a lunch, activities, drumming, singing, dinner and more.

Throughout the event Survivors and guests can expect an uplifting, celebratory environment. We know everyone is at a different place on their own healing journey and we are hopeful this day will help lift your spirits. There will be cultural supports and counsellors available onsite. Additional supports are available as listed on the following page.

Everyone is welcome to attend and we invite you to bring your children, your family, and your friends to join you on this momentous occasion.

For more information, please contact:

Elected Chief Councillor, Wahmeesh Ken Watts at

Event Coordinator, Esther Charlie

Communications Liaison, Melissa Bigmore at


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