Canada·Photos

Vigils, marches and ceremonies: Communities honour Kamloops residential schoolchildren

All across Canada, people have gathered to mourn and remember after preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School revealed the unmarked burial sites of children's remains.

Preliminary findings indicate children's remains may be buried at former school site

Runners from the Syilx Okanagan Nation taking part in the Spirit of Syilx Unity Run make an emotional journey to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 5 to honour the 215 school children. The run's goal is to unify the community while addressing mental health and cultural rejuvenation in Kamloops, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.


Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said May 27 that preliminary findings from a survey conducted by a specialist in ground-penetrating radar indicated the remains of what could be 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Since then, people across Canada have gathered to mourn and pay their respects.

Here are some of the vigils, marches and ceremonies held in recent days. 

B.C. and Kamloops

A mourning ceremony at Peace Arch Park in Surrey, B.C., was held Saturday afternoon. The event was hosted by the Lummi Nation and attracted about 200 participants.

It included a healing circle and smudging ceremony at the Peace Arch, which is on the border between British Columbia and Washington state. Those with direct ties to the Kamloops residential school were given ceremonial blankets to wrap themselves.

(Joel Ballard/CBC)

Cash Charters sings and drums with a group at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Friday. One of the school's survivors, Stanley Paul, 75, is pictured holding his walking stick in the air.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Katherine Cooper, right, from the Mosakahiken Cree Nation in Manitoba consoles her friends at the monument on Friday.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Kamloops residential school survivor Clayton Peters, 64, who was forced to attend the school for 10 years, is photographed outside the former school on May 31. His parents and brothers were also forced into the facility.

(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Members of the Musqueam Indian Band hold a ceremony in remembrance of the children in Vancouver on May 31.

(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Prairie provinces

In Brandon, Man., 215 orange wooden crosses were set up along two of the city's busiest streets on Sunday morning. Jordan Wilson and over a dozen volunteers organized the display.

The crosses were made to honour the Kamloops school children, but some volunteers also wrote the names of their relatives who were forced to attend residential and day schools in southwestern Manitoba on some of them.

(Riley Laychuk/CBC)

People gather in Edmonton on May 31 in recognition of the discovery.

(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Volunteers put up orange shirts before a news conference and prayer vigil on June 1 at the former Muscowequan Indian Residential School, one of the last residential schools to close its doors in 1997 and the last fully intact residential school still standing in Saskatchewan at Muskowekwan First Nation. 

(Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press)

Melvina Asapace walks through the halls of the former Muscowequan school, which her brother was forced to attend. 

(Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press)

Residential day school survivor Ray Swan is comforted by his wife, Doreen Bunn, on May 31. The couple came to the Manitoba Legislature to grieve after hearing news from Kamloops.

(Austin Grabish/CBC)

Central Canada

People take part in an honour march to pay tribute to all of the victims of the residential school system, in Kahnawake, Que., on May 30. 

(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Residential school survivor Betty Deer sits next to children's shoes, placed there as a tribute to all of the victims of the residential school system, outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake. 

(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

A poster with 215 hearts is shown before a ceremony in Kingston, Ont., on May 31.

(Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Sam Howden, left, who co-organized a memorial protest in front of a statue of Egerton Ryerson, an architect of the residential school system, is pictured June 1 in Toronto.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Wiit tisim hanakum skaaqkw, left, is pictured during a ceremony June 3 on Parliament Hill. Behind her is the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council, a building that was up until June 2017 called the Langevin Block. Hector-Louis Langevin was one of the Fathers of Confederation and an architect of the residential school system.

(Andrew Lee/CBC)

Atlantic Canada

In New Brunswick, members of Metepenagiag First Nation march to raise awareness and honour the children.

(Gary Moore/CBC)

Children's shoes cover the steps of the church at the Sipekne'katik First Nation. A renewed search on the grounds of the former residential school in Shubenacadie, N.S., will begin the June 5-6 weekend.

(Shaina Luck/CBC)

Indigenous community members organize an event with 215 pairs of children's shoes in front of the controversial John A. Macdonald statue in downtown Charlottetown, which was removed June 1 following a vote by city council. 

(John Robertson/CBC)

Felt squares are tied to the fence surrounding the Colonial Building in St. John's to honour the 215 children on May 31.

(Mike Rossiter/CBC)

Dozens of people turned out with only a few hours' notice in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., on May 31 to honour the children.

(Regan Burden/CBC)

Scenes from Canada's North

Hundreds of people take to the streets of Yellowknife on Friday afternoon as part of the Dene Nation memorial gathering.

(Avery Zingel/CBC)

Jennifer Roberts, among the marchers in Yellowknife on Friday, carries an orange heart-shaped sign that reads, 'The real Canadian history' during the memorial march.

(Sidney Cohen/CBC)

In Whitehorse, thousands gather downtown on May 31 and march in silence. A sacred fire ceremony was held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre as chiefs from Yukon and northern British Columbia called for further investigations.

(Philippe Morin/CBC)

Shoes have also been placed on the front steps of St. Jude's Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit. 

David Gunn/CBC


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

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to 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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