Sparwood, Invermere, Kimberley and Cranbrook have lowered their municipal flags to half-mast, after the remains of 215 children were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.
Last week, children’s bodies were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site using ground-penetrating radar.
According to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, the school was the largest in the Indian Affairs residential school system.
The Indigenous community will undergo a number of steps following the discovery. These steps include contacting the BC Coroner Service, reaching out to communities who had children attend the school, taking measures to protect the locations of the remains, and working with the Royal British Columbia Museum and others to seek out any records of these deaths.
Locally, Sparwood said it will lower the District’s flags to half-mast for 215 hours, one for every child found.
“Mayor and Council extend sincere condolences to the families who have, and continue to suffer because of this horrific tragedy and injustice. We extend a call to all residents of Sparwood and beyond to take action and educate yourself on Indigenous peoples, their culture, residential schools and Truth and Reconciliation,” said the District of Sparwood.
Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morison provided his comments on the situation as well.
“It’s not only heartbreaking, but it’s also an unfortunate, difficult reminder of the dark chapter of Canadian history. I feel now, more than ever, our Indigenous community needs our compassion and solidarity as the healing process continues,” said Morrison.
Invermere, Cranbrook and Kimberley have also lowered their flags. Invermere said its flags will be lowered until further notice.
Fernie has issued a statement offering its condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and Indigenous communities across B.C.