Scores of people came out to a drum circle at Gyro Park Sunday, May 30.
Led by the Boundary All Nations Aboriginal Council (BANAC), the rhythm echoed the loss of 215 indigenous children whose remains were recently found buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
BANAC’s Vitoria Runge, who organized the ceremony, joined indigenous and Métis elders in song, prayer and remembrance.
“We’re honouring (the children) and bringing awareness to everyone,” she told The Gazette.
Among the drummers was Grand Forks’ Diana Marcoux, whose children’s great grandfather survived a residential school in Maskwacis, Alta.
“He made it home, thankfully,” she said, standing next to her two young daughters.
“It’s important for us to remember, because my children are First Nations,” she added.
Métis elder Joanie Holmes (née Berard) explained that residential schools were a tool of European colonialism.
“I would hope that all Canadians, and all citizens of the world, would look at this as something that should never have happened,” she said.
Several of the elders who spoke to The Gazette said they hoped Sunday’s event would encourage understanding around the lasting impacts of the residential school system on surviving generations of indigenous peoples.
Sunday’s event was well-attended by Grand Forks’ non-indigenous community, including Mayor Brian Taylor and Couns. Christine Thompson and Everett Baker.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a 24/7 emergency crisis: 1-800-721-0066.