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Residential School Memorial items have gone missing in Sylvan Lake

The memorial is now gone, but organizers are finding another way to honour the children

Tracey Grienke was shocked.

The day after Canada Day everything in the memorial display for the children who died in the residential schools was gone.

“All the ribbons were gone, the shoes were gone, everything was gone. It was cleaned up,” said Grienke.

There were at least 100 pairs in the display, which Grienke set up later in June outside the municipal government building in Sylvan Lake after the discovery of grave site of 215 children in B.C. The shoes overlooked a nearby playground, honouring the lost souls who never had the chance to play there.

There was talk of someone stealing them, but Grienke is unsure.

“I don’t understand how somebody can steal that many shoes and clean up the whole area while doing it. The shoes were also sitting in the rain so they wouldn’t be something someone would steal to wear.”

Grienke approached the Town of Sylvan Lake and the mayor who said he would look into it.

She contacted the mayor again on Tuesday.

No one at the town had any idea what happened.

She suggested they check the cameras.

The mayor replied saying that since the cameras were inside the building, they wouldn’t capture images outside of the building.

A town employee then notified the police about the missing items on July 6, said Sgt. Jeff McBeth.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to advance our investigation at this time due to lack of evidence, specifically that there were no witnesses and no surveillance available at the time,” he said.

Grienke just wants to know what happened.

“I really don’t know what happened to those shoes but I think if they were stolen they would be scattered all over town. I doubt they would’ve taken the time to take the ribbons down,” said Grienke.

While the shoe memorial is now gone, Grienke and the town is coming up with another way to honour the children.

“I designed a mural and we are going to find a place to put the mural downtown, and we are having a local Indigenous artist paint it.”

The mural will probably be done sometime in late August when artist Ryan Jason Willert has a chance to paint it, said Grienke.

“For the mural, my hope is to have Indigenous children in their traditional regalia playing and I want it at a park so lots of people can see it, learn from it and understand.”