Inside Canada’s largest residential school in Kamloops, B.C., a healing ceremony is held.
“We will say a prayer blessing the home asking god to bless the children that were found the ones that came here and never made it home,” says Mike Kelly, who led the ceremony, “in the name of the father, of the son, of the holy ghost, amen.”
Just outside, the memorial for the children who were discovered, the band says, by new ground penetrating radar, grows with teddy bears, flowers along with hundreds of handwritten messages.
Manny Jules, a former chief of the Kamloops Indian band, reads from one of the notes.
“What is most important to keep going and never yield to anyone who opposes you all lives matter, my condolences,” he says.
Manny was also a day scholar at the school.
“A lot of those hurts and pains have to be put behind us but at the same time we can never forget them,” he says. “It would have been thousands of children coming through here. Generations of kids that went onto become great parents and great great grandparents so it would be easily in excess of 10,000.
“But that’s one of the forensic work we want to undertake is how many attended school here and how many were impacted by it.”
With much of the school records in the hands of the Catholic church, or destroyed, the full impact on the students of this school may never be known.
“It takes time to forgive and it takes to heal from what happened here,” says Kelly.
For survivor Rose Miller, who was severely abused while attending this schools, she found a way to heal her trauma and later help other children. She returned here again – this time as a nurse in the 1970s.
“I got them all the glasses that were up to date and I got them a lot of their dental work done and different surgeries and we had RCMP days where they got to know the RCMP they used to have a pool here things started changing,” she says. “I got them clothes where they didn’t have to wear the same type of clothes different kind of shoes so many thing they were allowed into town once a week.
“A lot of them played ball here and we played with ball with them. We did a lot of things the childcare workers and I to try and change the whole system.”
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation says the discovery of the graves found buried here is now going to be handled by the BC Coroner.
“We want to ensure all of those descendants that we as a community are going to do everything we can to ensure the memory of those little ones that we found here last week,” says Jules.