A ceremony to honour all Indigenous children from residential schools who never made it home, the survivors, and their families was held in Victoria Tuesday.
The Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations held Canoe protocol and a drum circle at the inner harbour and the B.C. legislature lawn.
Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects.
“This is our time to honour the 215 children and to stand with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc people,” Songhees Chief Ron Sam said.
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The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced the discovery of the remains recently after ground-penetrating radar confirmed what members had long said about the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was the largest institution of its kind in Canada.
Everyone who attended the ceremony wore orange shirts to honour the commitment of healing and reconciliation.
The timing of the ceremony aligned with the raising of flags that have been flying half-mast at Victoria City Hall and the BC Legislature for 215 hours, one hour for each child buried in the unmarked graves found in Kamloops.
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“My vision was to have all the of the nations come together,” Cecelia Dick, culture and tourism supervisor for the Songhees First Nation, told Global News. “So I wanted to come and sing our songs to help heal each other.”
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She said she started phoning other Nations, asking them for support and that’s how this event was born.
“It’s been a very, very difficult time for a lot of Nations because it’s opened up (wounds) and some say they want to forget,” Dick added. “Everyone heals in a different way but it’s always been our way, my way, to have people gather.”
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