Editor’s note: The contents of the article below may be triggering.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, a day Canadian citizens typically reserve for celebrating their own, a dozen or so volunteers converged on Commercial Drive.
In orange T-shirts, they gathered for a different form of commemoration – one that now stretches a block-long with painted letters that read “Every Child Matters.”
“That’s how we’re celebrating Canada Day. We’re honoring the children,” said Haida artist Tamara Bell, who spearheaded the street mural initiative.
Vancouver Police cordoned off the block after the group receiving a two-year approval from the municipal government.
The May discovery of 215 childrens’ remains beneath the soil of what was B.C.’s largest residential school, in Kamloops, has renewed calls for justice across the country.
Children as young as three years old were found buried in unmarked graves, something that First Nations communities had grieved for more than a century.
Along with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc children, there were an estimated 6,000 others who died in the schools administered by churches and the federal government.
The Roman Catholic Church has yet to issue a public apology for its guiding role in residential schools.
Canada Day celebrations across B.C. have been nixed in cities including Victoria, Port Hardy and Penticton, out of respect for those grieving.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society 24-hour Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.
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