Windsor woman displays ribbons in honour of Kamloops residential school children

·2 min read

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A Windsor-Essex resident is honouring the children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site by displaying 215 orange ribbons in a tree at the end of her driveway.

"I want to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters across the nation, across the world," said Robyn Klimek, who is one of the leaders of an advocacy organization for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals.

"Those spirits need to be honoured."

Last month, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said that preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School conducted by a specialist in ground-penetrating radar indicated that the remains of around 215 children were on site.

The RCMP has launched an investigation into the finding, and more than a dozen lawyers have called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the Canadian government and the Vatican for crimes against humanity.

'Action needs to be taken'

Klimek said she is of mixed ancestry, Cree and Polish, and her family descends from Onion Lake, Sask.

"Action needs to be taken, we need to search the residential schools and bring them all home," she said.

More and more people are understanding that it's time. We have that opportunity now to speak up and be heard. - Robyn Klimek

The ribbons have attracted quite a bit of attention, she said, with a lot of people stopping to look or to snap a picture.

"It seems to be striking conversation, which is what's needed right now."

She said she would like to send her condolences to the families and the survivors of residential schools.

"Right now, with everything that's coming to light, the people are speaking out. They're mad, they're angry, they're disappointed, they're saddened, a lot of heartbroken people in the community," Klimek said.

"More and more people are understanding that it's time. We have that opportunity now to speak up and be heard."

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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