Two Anishinaabe communities located in Southern Ontario hosted a day of mourning with the hopes of it becoming a nationally recognized event.
Curve Lake Chief First Nation Chief Emily Whetung and Chief Laurie Carr of Hiawatha First Nation collaborated on the one-day event to mark the 215th day since the discovery of unmarked graves of Indigenous children in Kamloops, B.C.
“There’s this feeling of grief and loss and it’s not just a feeling of grief and loss for Indigenous communities,” Whetung said. “Canada is feeling the loss of these tiny little ones who were stolen from our communities, who are stolen from our cultural continuum and that’s what today is about, it’s about making a space for everybody to recognize that loss together.”
On May 27, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced that the bodies of 215 children had been discovered on the Kamloops site using ground penetrating radar.
The gathering began with a sunrise ceremony in a park in Peterborough, a small city northeast of Toronto. By noon a large crowd gathered at the city hall for speeches. The group then held a march through the main street, back to the park where the sacred fire burned.
Since May, more than a thousand unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been found on residential school grounds in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimated the number of lost children on residential schools to be over 4,000 and so with 138 residential schools, we can see that it’s just going to grow from here,” said Whetung.
Carr said, that’s why a national day of mourning is so important.
“We’re here today to create awareness of our children that are being recovered and the many more thousands to be recovered and create that awareness and keep it on going, it’s just that it can’t stop, it needs to continue, so that the general Canadian population can continue to be aware, continue to learn and create that awareness across this country,” said Carr.