Hundreds of orange shirts were seen at select locations on Tuesday afternoon in Regina as citizens participated in outdoor healing gatherings.
Four locations in the Queen City, including the west lawn across the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, hosted pipe ceremonies and feasts organized by local First Nations and contributors to pay respects to children who attended residential schools and did not return home. The events, which followed public health measures, were scheduled at noon on Tuesday following the discovery of 215 children found buried at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
People gathered in front of the legislative building & west lawn across the street as part of a city-wide pipe ceremony and feast at several locations across #Regina. The events are to pray for children who did not return home from residential schools. #YQR pic.twitter.com/DcFWmCB5PY
— Moises Canales (@MoisesCanalesJr) June 1, 2021
Saskatoon MLA Betty Nippi-Albright, a residential school survivor who attended the healing gathering near the legislative building, said it is important for people from all backgrounds to honour those who did not survive.
“Imagine someone taking your six-year-old away from you, the only choice you had was to give your child up or go to jail and you were not able to see them,” she explained. “We need to mourn that loss we all feel the young lives that were not properly buried or their families never had the opportunity to say goodbye to them.”
Following the news over the weekend from British Columbia, Nippi-Albright said one of the first steps requires naming the truth and being honest about residential school history in Canada.
“As a province, we need to fund and support FSIN in doing radar ground searches because they will cost money,” Nippi-Albright added.
The FSIN and Saskatchewan government issued a joint call on Monday for the Canadian government to research undocumented deaths and burials at residential schools in Saskatchewan.
Among those who helped organize the healing gatherings on Tuesday were Cowessess First Nations, Piapot First Nations, Zagime Anishinabek First Nation and Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services.