Indigenous communities mourn residential school children
LONDON, ONT. -- Members from Indigenous communities and others gathered Sunday afternoon to place children’s shoes at the steps of the St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica in London, Ont.
The shoes serve as a memorial, after the remains of 215 children, some as young as three, were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops B.C. After a preliminary survey of the lands was ordered.
"I felt something hit my heart, grieving you know. I could feel the pain of my people. I could feel the pain that they’re experiencing knowing those children went missing and were never found until today," said memorial organizer, Yeyatalunyuhe.
The discovery was made last weekend where the former Kamloops Indian Residential School once stood.
The effects of the tragedy hitting home for many.
"That this happened to our people, to our children…my dad was a residential school survivor and I made sure I was coming here today because I have grandchildren and to know this was allowed to happen is heartbreaking," says memorial participant Tammy Doxtator.
Organizers hope the memorial will encourage people passing by to stop and reflect.
They are also encouraging people to become more educated on the abuses against indigenous people in Canada.
"To see the turnout warms my heart, but at the same time it gives me that visual of how many children there are that have not been found. I think there is many more I think that each residential school or area where there was one, standing or not, needs to be investigated," said Yeyatalunyuhe.
Beginning Monday, the Thames Valley District School Board says it will lower flags to half-mast at their schools for 215 hours (9 days).