Winnipeg residential school survivors mourn mass grave discovery in B.C.

WINNIPEG — Residential school survivors in Winnipeg held a small vigil on Friday following the discovery of graves containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children were uncovered on the property of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C..

The graves were uncovered after a preliminary survey of the lands was ordered.

As mourning occurs across the country, here in Winnipeg, some residential school survivors organized a small vigil.

The ceremony took place on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature and included a moment of silence and traditional songs to honour the children.

“The graves that are still out there and even unknown as we speak, we have to honour them,” said organizer and residential school survivor Belinda Vandenbroeck. “We have to honour their little souls. They didn’t ask to be taken.”

The discovery of the graves is an emotional reminder for many survivors.

“It could have been me. It could have been my sister. It could have been my brother,” said Gerry Shingoose, who survived nine years at a residential school.

Shingoose claims the bodies of 45 children were previously found below the playground of her school.

She said residential school properties across the country should be searched for graves.

“Across Canada, there are many schools to be looked at. Each school needs to be looked at because there are more children there,” Shingoose said.

Organizers of the event said the discovery of graves is an important part of the healing process.

“It’s very important. Acknowledgement, knowing of what happened to the little children, it’s important to the families,” said Vandenbroeck.

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