Solemn day of ceremony to mark anniversary of Kamloops unmarked graves

Kamloops, B.C. –

Beginning at sunrise on Monday, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc will host a solemn day of ceremony and reflection to mark the one-year anniversary of unmarked graves being located at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

For decades, survivors who once spent time at the school told the stories of peers who suddenly vanished. Some believed the missing children had run away, but many always suspected something more sinister.

A survey last year using ground-penetrating radar showed the existence of 215 potential unmarked graves.

Kukpi7 Roseanne Casimir, chief of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc will be joined by Governor General Mary Simon.

Cultural protocols call for Monday to mark the end of a year of mourning for the missing children, but for survivors and the families of the children who never made it home, the healing journey will continue.

“When I first shared the news, it was devastating for many of our community members,” Casimir said last week. “For many, this is about our collective history. And it’s about those meaningful steps moving forward.”

Since the announcement of the Kamloops graves being located, hundreds more potential grave sites have been found at residential schools across the country.

The federal government declared Sept. 30 a holiday known as The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

And in April, at the Vatican, Pope Francis delivered a historic apology to delegations of Indigenous, Inuit and Metis Canadians on behalf of the Catholic Church, which administered many of Canada’s residential schools.

The next steps for the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc remain to be finalized, but Casimir says discussions are ongoing about possibly exhuming the remains of any children in the unmarked graves so they can be repatriated to their First Nations.  

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