A small vigil in Lethbridge marked the first anniversary of the discovery of unmarked graves at a Kamloops residential school.
Alica Mistaken Chief organized the event at Galt Gardens on Friday (May 27), where speakers shared their experience with residential school, performed and danced together.
“It’s time for us to start healing — it’s time for our stories to be told because stories hurt, but stories also heal. We need to come together as a community,” she said.
Flags at city hall flew half staff to mark the anniversary of the 215 children found with ground penetrating radar last year — mistaken Chief pointed out the number of graves discovered across Canada has grown to over 1,000 since.
“What these children experienced is beyond almost comprehension to fathom that they died so unknowingly to us, to their parents, to their loved ones, to their people so it is an atrocity that’s happened to our people,” said Mark Brave Rock, a member of the Lethbbridge Sage Clan, at the event. “This wasn’t anything that was a secret amongst Indigenous people, not only here but everywhere. I hear stories that there’s graves.”
The event included a showing of the documentary film They Found Us and a round dance. Mistaken Chief said this is the third vigil she has organized. After the first discovery was made, she gathered 215 pairs of shoes to display at a vigil — this time she gathered orange painted rocks to display, which she encouraged people to take home with them.
“Take them with you and take them everywhere you travel because I don’t want these children to be forgotten,” she said. “When you guys are on the top of a hill from a hike or on a picnic in Waterton or Banff, put a rock up there so the world doesn’t forget them because that is what the world is doing, the world is forgetting about these little innocent angels and I don’t want their memory to go down in vain.”