Ceremonies in North Bay honour victims found buried at residential school in B.C.
NORTH BAY -- The flags at city hall in North Bay were raised Tuesday afternoon after being at half-mast for 215 hours to honour the remains of children found at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
“I think right now what our community is looking for is healing,” said George Couchie, an Indigenous advocate and teacher.
“The number that have come up in the last couple weeks, didn’t surprise me. When I walked across some of the residential schools the last few years, I think the number is going to be around 50,000 by the time they’re finished. So this is part of the healing here.”
A ceremony was also held at Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption in the city’s downtown, where pairs of shoes placed on the church steps were honoured in a smudge ceremony.
“Smudging is a cleansing of the area. So we want to think good thoughts, say good thoughts,” said Couchie.
“The anger is part of the trauma, but it’s not going to help us move as a community. Really, it’s our youth that really need this support at this difficult time. So that’s why we came and supported the church.”
It’s been just more than a week since the 215 bodies were found. The Pope has yet to issue a formal apology, but the bishop for northern Ontario told CTV News it’s something that needs to be done.
“I’m very supportive of an apology,” said Thomas Dowd, Bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie.
"I have no belief that (the Pope) knew anything about Kamloops back when it was happening. But that’s not the point. The point is you're a leader of a community that needs to go through a process of reconciliation, that needs to acknowledge our history."
Couchie said the horrific event will never be forgotten, but he said it is time to find a way forward.
“Those 215 young people have now gone on to the spirit world, they’re in a good place now,” he said.
“It’s about finding peace, and that’s what’s going to happen in our community.”