The flags at municipal-run facilities across the Peace Country will be lowered for 215 hours to honour the lives of the 215 Indigenous children who died in the care of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Flags in the City and County of Grande Prairie, Town of Peace River, Town of Sexsmith, Town of Wembley and Town of Peace River will be lowered until June 9th.
“Our hearts are with our Indigenous, First Nations, and Métis community in the wake of the discovery of 215 children lost at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School,” says Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton. “The City of Grande Prairie enters a time of reflection and mourning.”
The Grande Prairie Public School Division has also lowered all of its division flags, while all local school divisions encouraged staff and students to wear orange Monday.
A candlelight vigil is planned for outside of Grande Prairie City Hall at 8 p.m. Monday night. Horse Lake First Nation will be observing a moment of silence at the same time in partnership with the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre-organized event.
Indian residential schools operated in Canada between the 1870s and the 1990s, with the last one closing in 1996. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation estimates based on death records that about 4,100 children died at the schools but has said the total is likely much higher.
Support for residential school survivors is available through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society by calling toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. A 24-hour national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is also available for emotional support or assistance at 1-866-925-4419.