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Halifax to lower flags in honour of Kamloops residential school victims

The remains of 215 children were found buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. on Friday
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Halifax City Hall (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Halifax mayor Mike Savage says the municipality will be lowering flags to half-mast to honour the 215 children whose remains were discovered buried on the site of a former British Columbia residential school.

In a tweet, Savage also said it's to honour "all others who lost their lives to the residential schools system."

All flags on municipal properties will be at half-mast starting Monday.

On May 28, the remains of the 215 children were found on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. They were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation said some of the children were as young as three.

She said it’s believed the deaths are undocumented, but a local museum archivist is working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the deaths can be found.

On Friday, she also said more bodies may be found because there are more areas to search on the school grounds.

The school was once the largest residential school in Canada's system with up to 500 students attending at any one time.

It was in operation from 1890 to 1969. The federal government took over its operations to run it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has records of at least 51 children dying at the school between 1914 and 1963.

In July 2015, the commission issued its final report on residential schools. It details the harsh mistreatment Indigenous children suffered at the institutions and states at least 3,200 children died amid abuse and neglect.

Other Canadian cities are also lowering their flags to half-mast. Flags at Ottawa's city hall will be lowered from May 31 to June 8.

"The flags will remain lowered for one hour for every child whose life was taken," Ottawa mayor Jim Watson tweeted Sunday morning.

Saint John, N.B. will also lower municipal flags to half-mast.

"A simple act of solidarity and support for families and a signal that actual actions are required to eradicate acts of racial discrimination, senseless acts of violence and murder," Saint John mayor Don Darling tweeted on Sunday.

Other Nova Scotia municipalities will also lower flags including Bridgewater, Port Hawkesbury and Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul tweeted earlier Sunday morning asking people to lower their flags in honour and remembrance of the 215 children.

For those who may need it, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.



Chris Stoodley

About the Author: Chris Stoodley

Chris was born and raised in Halifax. After graduating from the journalism program at King's, he started as CityNews Halifax's weekend editor.
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