A memorial was held in Parksville for the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.
“This is an opportunity for all of us in Canada, in society, to acknowledge there is pain and to acknowledge the harm that has been done. And this is spiritual harm towards, or against Indigenous people,” said Edna Howard, who organized the event with the City of Parksville.
A small crowd gathered at the cenotaph on Craig Street where the flag is at half-mast and children’s shoes have been displayed as a visual representation of the lives lost.
“I am going to try to [address the crowd] without breaking down because this is a real visual to what has happened in Canada and continues to happen in Canada,” Howard said.
“We don’t have the residential schools today, but we are feeling the ripple effects of all the actions and everything that has taken place in all the residential schools in Canada.”
She thanked the people who attended to acknowledge the damage caused by residential schools and said she plans on organizing a candle-light vigil later in the week.
“Let’s leave a legacy where everyone can grow, everyone can heal and we can all just make a better world. This is an opportunity for us to do that,” Howard said.
She commended the city for helping her to organize the event and the cenotaph memorial.
“I wish it was under better circumstances that we were getting together,” said Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne. “This is a very, very sad day. I was talking to some people earlier this morning and I said it’s about a horrific act as one could find and I feel so bad about it.”
He said he saw concern from some residents online because the memorial was set up under a cross and the schools were Christian. “I’m sorry about that — we still think that this is the best place for it,” he said. He also asked Howard if she would like it to be set up in a different location, but she agreed the cenotaph was the best place.