Flowers, children's shoes, stuffed animals placed on steps of Vernon courthouse in tribute to children of residential school

Memorial at courthouse

A memorial of flowers, children's shoes and stuffed animals has been placed on the steps of the Vernon courthouse, in tribute to the lives of 215 children, whose remains were found buried at the former Kamloops Residential School on May 28.

The discovery has gripped the nation and started a new dialogue on reconciliation with First Nations, who saw their children taken from them and placed in residential schools across Canada.

A social media call went out to recognize the tragedy by placing teddy bears on porches, leaving lights on, and wearing orange in solidarity.

Similar memorials have popped up across the country.

The discovery of the children's remains in an unmarked burial site has revived discussion about the dark history of the residential school system, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded was cultural genocide against Indigenous Peoples.

In 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluded in its 1,200-page report that Canada deliberately and systematically violated racial, gender, human and Indigenous rights, and that its actions amounted to genocide.

A national student death register has since been created, which currently contains 4,118 children, and is being maintained by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

In the provincial legislature, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar said it’s incumbent on “all of us in this chamber” to listen and support the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in its efforts to ensure that cultural protocols are followed as they work to provide the children and their families the dignity of a proper final resting place.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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