The former Kamloops Indian Residential School is seen in Kamloops, B.C., on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Prime Minister Trudeau attends Kamloops memorial to mark graves detection anniversary

Prime Minister Trudeau attends Kamloops memorial to mark graves detection anniversary

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to spend much of the afternoon and evening at a memorial to mark the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the detection of an unmarked burial site at the former residential school at Kamloops, B.C.

The memorial started at sunrise Monday with a ceremony and is scheduled to conclude with a closing evening prayer.

Trudeau will meet with community members in the afternoon, view a traditional jingle dance performance and participate in a closed meeting with Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir and members of her council.

The memorial at the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc powwow grounds near the former Kamloops school site will include cultural performances, dances, prayers and drumming and remarks from speakers.

Trudeau is also scheduled to participate in the memorial’s closing ceremonies slated to begin at about 7 p.m.

Trudeau faced widespread criticism last September when he did not attend national reconciliation day ceremonies in Kamloops.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon attended the memorial earlier Monday, delivering remarks to honour children who never returned home from the Kamloops school.

“We mourn with you. We stand with you. We believe you,” she said.

Last May, Casimir said a war graves expert using ground-penetrating radar found what are believed to be the remains of up to 215 people buried at an unmarked site at the former school.

The detection of hundreds more suspected graves connected to residential schools across Canada would follow, amid a year of reckoning over the legacy of residential schools for Indigenous children.

Kamloops school survivors say the past year was an emotional journey that included reawakened trauma, catharsis and, for some, closure.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2022.

The Canadian Press

residential schools