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City lowers flags to honour Kamloops residential school victims

City of Thunder Bay joins federal government in symbolic step to recognize victims of residential school.
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The City of Thunder Bay will lower flags on Monday. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay will lower flags at city hall to honour hundreds of Indigenous children whose remains were discovered in an unmarked grave at a former residential school in British Columbia.

The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation revealed Thursday that the remains of 215 children had been discovered buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which operated between 1890 and 1969.

The preliminary findings came through the use of ground-penetrating radar.

Flags will be flown at half-mast from Monday until June 8, the city said in a release on Sunday.

"The flags will remain lowered for one hour for every child whose life was lost, and in memory of the thousands of children who were sent to residential schools, for those who never returned, and in honour of the families whose lives were forever changed," the statement read in part.

Flags will also be lowered at federal buildings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on social media Sunday.

"To honour the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower flag and flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-mast," he stated on Twitter.

In a statement Sunday, Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa also called for the provincial government to recognize the deaths by lowering flags and holding a moment of silence at Queen's Park on Monday.

He also called for the country to undertake similar searches at other former residential school sites.

"It is a great open secret that our children lie on the properties of the former schools – an open secret that Canadians can no longer look away from," he said. "In keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Missing Children Projects, every school site must be searched for the graves of our ancestors."

For former students and others impacted, a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

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