n Sunday evening about 200 people gathered at Nathan Phillips Square to honour the 215 Secwepemc, St'at'imc and Coast Salish children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia earlier last week.
Members of Indigenous communities sang, danced and played drums, while others at the vigil formed a large circle around them. People placed candles and children's shoes in a circle and burned sage and tobacco to commemorate the 215 children, as well as honour those who were forced to attend residential schools from 1831 to 1996.
In total, an estimated 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children attended residential schools. Over 6000 died within the system.
The Kamloops Residential School was once the largest residential school in Canada.
“Given the size of the school, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time, we understand that this confirmed loss affects First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond,” Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir said over the weekend.
"I was in a residential school," one speaker said at the vigil on Sunday evening. "I was in the 60's Scoop. I was in their prison for a crime I did not commit."
Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance offers a harm reduction grief and sharing circle every Monday on Zoom at 6pm. "A drop-in, peer-led space for people living with substance-related loss to connect and heal." Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is open 24/7.