N.B. First Nation hosts march in memory of children buried at former B.C. residential school

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People in Metepenagiag First Nation marched Wednesday to in memory of the 215 children whose bodies were found buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
People in Metepenagiag First Nation marched Wednesday to in memory of the 215 children whose bodies were found buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

There has been a lot of sadness in Metepenagiag First Nation over the past few days, says the community's chief.

News that the bodies of 215 children were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. has devastated residents of the First Nation in northeastern New Brunswick.

On Wednesday, they held a march to honour their memory.

"We feel for our brothers and sisters out west and, you know, there's been residential schools throughout the country and close to here and we have survivors here in the community," said Metepenagiag Chief Bill Ward.

"So when you hear news of this, it kind of just opens up that trauma again, and that pain that they suffered in the past. And it's been difficult for sure."

Metepenagiag First Nation Chief Bill Ward said there has been a lot of sadness in his community since the discovery of the bodies at the former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
Metepenagiag First Nation Chief Bill Ward said there has been a lot of sadness in his community since the discovery of the bodies at the former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.(Gary Moore/CBC)

Ward said by holding the march, his hope was to educate people about what happened so they can understand and relate to the pain and trauma that Indigenous peoples have endured.

Ward said he also wants the discovery of the children's bodies to spur governments to work harder to implement the 94 calls to action laid out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report in 2015.

Wanda Ward, a resident of Metepenagiag, said the week has been difficult.

"When we found out the findings in Kamloops, British Columbia, we were just devastated over over this because it's nothing that we haven't seen before — we experienced it so much in our history," she said.

"We suffer from historical trauma, we suffer from residential school. We have survivors actually here at this ceremony today that are survivors of residential school. We suffer from Indian day school where we were, again, brutalized and punished."

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

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