Central Alberta communities and Red Deer College lowered their flags and First Nations at Maskwacis were to host a ceremony to remember the 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“This is a tragic reminder of a painful reality for our Indigenous community. Today, we lower our flags in solidarity with those who stand against these unthinkable actions that took place against these children and their families, said Mayor Tara Veer in a statement Monday.
“As local government, we have a responsibility to do more. We have a responsibility to act, and to acknowledge our past, present and future as we continue to commit to Truth and Reconciliation for the betterment of all our cities and communities.”
The city said that in conjunction with lowering of the flags, citizens were encouraged to wear orange on Monday to promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century — an impact recognized as a cultural genocide, and an impact that continues today.
At Maskwacis, the chiefs of the Montana, Samson, Ermineskin and Louis Bull First Nations were to join in a ceremony Monday evening to honour the children, whose remains were found recently at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, near Kamloops.
A two-minute, 15-second moment of silence was planned to remember the children whose remains were found by ground-penetrating radar.
Red Deer College also announced Monday it was lowering its flags to half-staff and students and staff were encouraged to wear orange in the spirit of reconciliation and as a sign that we will remember the lives of all children who were lost, and those who survived residential schools.
“This is, sadly, one of far too many examples of the atrocities we now realize that occurred in residential schools across Canada,” said RDC president Peter Nunoda in a statement.
“As educators, we strive to share our knowledge with our students, so that they may learn and use that knowledge in their careers and lives, for the betterment of society. We know this is not what happened at the Kamloops residential school, nor across Canada.
“It is for this reason that I am both sad and outraged as I reflect on the lives lost far too young in Kamloops, and for all the atrocities that occurred in residential schools across Canada.”
Students and staff at Red Deer’s Public and Catholic schools were also encouraged to wear orange on Monday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered flags flown at half-mast on all federal buildings, including the Peace Tower on Parliament in Ottawa.
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, Trudeau said the move is “to honour the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families.”