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

Sunrise ceremony opens daylong Kamloops memorial to mark graves detection anniversary

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — 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. starts early Monday with a ceremony at sunrise and concludes with a closing evening prayer.

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

Governor General Mary Simon will attend the memorial and deliver remarks to honour children who never returned home from the Kamloops school. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to attend the memorial in the evening, after meeting with Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir and council members.

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.