Childrens' shoes appear in North following discovery of remains at former B.C. residential school

·2 min read
Childrens' shoes have started appearing outside St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Yellowknife. (Dave F. G. Heron/Facebook - image credit)
Childrens' shoes have started appearing outside St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Yellowknife. (Dave F. G. Heron/Facebook - image credit)

The North is reacting to the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

The bodies were found during a search of the grounds of the old school, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced Thursday. A statement from the First Nation said that the missing children, some as young as three years old, were undocumented deaths.

In a statement issued Sunday, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said the discovery was devastating and left all Indigenous people in the country heartbroken and grieving.

"This isn't simply a dark chapter in Canadian history, it continues to be a very painful reality for all First Nations, Inuit and Metis," he wrote. "In order to move forward, all Canadians must face these horrors, learn the truth, demand justice and work toward meaningful reconciliation on our terms."

Savikataaq said the Government of Nunavut would lower all its flags to half mast for nine days — the equivalent of an hour for each of the 215 children found.

The Canadian flag at the Peace Tower in Ottawa was lowered to half-mast on Sunday, and the Department of Canadian Heritage said flags at all federal buildings and establishments across Canada would also be lowered until further notice "in memory of the thousands of children who were sent to residential schools."

An event page on Facebook is calling on people to bring donations of childrens' shoes to the tree at the site of the former old Akaitcho Hall residential school in Yellowknife, N.W.T.
An event page on Facebook is calling on people to bring donations of childrens' shoes to the tree at the site of the former old Akaitcho Hall residential school in Yellowknife, N.W.T.(Jenny Wasylkoski/Facebook)

Childrens' shoes have also started appearing at two locations in Yellowknife on Sunday.

A Facebook event named Kamloops Residential School Vigil - Yellowknife, NT is calling on people to bring donations of childrens' shoes to the site of the old Akaitcho Hall residential school to place them under the tree.

"I really encourage you parents to bring your little ones. This is a great opportunity to change how we see our First Nations," wrote the organizer, Angela Canning, in a post on the event page.

"I know it'll be scary but as parents, you are their first teacher and one of the most important people in their lives and they are paying attention to how we talk about this."

It's unclear whether an actual vigil is being planned. The page is listed as an online event.

Childrens' shoes have also appeared outside St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Yellowknife.

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