Red Deer Polytechnic students and employees gathered Friday to walk 2.15 miles to commemorate the 215 indigenous children whose remains were found in Kamloops earlier this year.
The event also came on the heels of the Cowessess First Nation east of Regina announcing that ground-penetrating radar had detected 751 potential unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School.
“The importance of this walk was to honour and remember the 215 children who were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, as well as those who have since been discovered and those who have yet to be found,” said Lloyd Desjarlais, Red Deer Polytechnic director of Indigenous Initiatives.
“By gathering together for this walk, we provided a safe and respectful space to help people in our post-secondary community who are affected by the findings.”
The idea for the 2.15-mile walk originated with fourth-year Red Deer polytechnic Business student, Justice Soosay, who is an intergenerational survivor.
Soosay said the discovery in Kamloops, along with racism directed towards Edmonton Oilers Indigenous defenceman Ethan Bear, made it apparent that the impacts of the residential school system are still being felt today.
The walk, with a symbolic distance of 2.15 miles, allowed people to gather as allies, acknowledging the continuing need for change in Canada.