Ladysmith honours 215 victims of Kamloops residential school

Flags across Ladysmith will remain lowered and City Hall illuminated orange for 215 hours

A pair of shoes representing the children who were victims of the Kamloops Indian Residential School sit at Transfer Beach Amphitheatre. (Town of Ladysmith photo)

A pair of shoes representing the children who were victims of the Kamloops Indian Residential School sit at Transfer Beach Amphitheatre. (Town of Ladysmith photo)

This story contains content some readers may find disturbing.

Flags across the Town of Ladysmith will remain lowered and City Hall illuminated orange for 215 hours; one hour of remembrance for each of the lost souls discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

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“My heart aches in solidarity with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, our First Nations here at home – Stz’uminus, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt, Cowichan, Malahat, Ditidaht, Pacheedaht, Ts’uubaa-asatx – and those across Canada. It is incumbent on all of us to recognize and respond to these tragic discoveries. The pain is immeasurable and unfathomable,” Mayor Aaron Stone said in a statement.

Municipalities across the country have lowered their flags in solidarity with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation and millions of Canadians wore orange shirts on Monday, May 31 to show their respect.

The nation-wide act of mourning comes after the bodies of 215 children were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School by ground-penetrating radar analysis.

RELATED: Teddy bears support those grieving Kamloops residential school victims

Support is available for people who are affected by the legacy of residential schools. People can access support services by calling the 24-hour national Indian Residential School Crisis Line at: 1-866-925-4419.

Read Mayor Stone’s full statement below:

Our flags across the Town of Ladysmith will remain lowered and City Hall illuminated orange for 215 hours; one hour of remembrance for each of the lost souls discovered, but never forgotten by their loved ones.

The Kamloops Residential School is sadly yet another sickening example of the residential school system, and the stolen children who were subjected to such inhuman abuse and neglect. We do not forget. We must not.

My heart aches in solidarity with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, our First Nations here at home – Stz’uminus, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt, Cowichan, Malahat, Ditidaht, Pacheedaht, Ts’uubaa-asatx – and those across Canada. It is incumbent on all of us to recognize and respond to these tragic discoveries. The pain is immeasurable and unfathomable.

Closer to home, the terrible legacy of the Kuper Island Residential School is known, but often not talked about. The survivors and their families, and the families of those who never returned home continue to suffer the pain and trauma of the forced reservation and residential school system.

We are heartsick in considering the lives lost, and the pain and trauma survivors and their families grapple with to this day in Kamloops, here at home and across Canada.

We must strive to better understand this painful legacy and support all of our First Nations communities here at home, across BC and throughout Canada during this painful time.

Never far below the surface, events like these recent discoveries in Kamloops open still fresh wounds, the pain of loss, and the anger we should all feel to such an abhorrent example of the inhumanity and cruelty experienced by First Nations people taken to residential and day schools.

In Ladysmith, as our flags remain lowered for these 215 hours, we also invite those wishing to pay tribute and remembrance to leave a pair of shoes at the Amphitheatre at Transfer Beach Park, facing Penelakut Island, the location of the former Kuper Island Residential School.

I encourage everyone to consider wearing orange, particularly over the coming days, to show your support as we grieve this tragic loss.

I thank you all in advance for your caring and kind response to this horrific discovery; I feel the horror and grief as well. As we grieve as a community, region, Province and nation, we find greater understanding. This should never happen again and it’s upon all of us to ensure that it doesn’t. We must do everything we can to support the healing necessary. I welcome you all to join us.

With the greatest love and respect to all of our First Nations. We stand with you always.

One heart. One mind. Naut’Sa Mawt.