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Burlington and Hamilton lowering flags in honour of 215 children found buried in BC

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Burlington and Hamilton lowering flags in honour of 215 children found buried in BC

Ontario cities, including Mississauga, Brampton and Burlington, are lowering their flags after the horrifying discovery of 215 children found buried in a mass grave at the site of a former residential school in British Columbia’s Interior.

The flags at Mississauga City Hall are flying at half-mast and will remain lowered for 215 hours, roughly nine days — one hour for each child.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie also echoed calls in an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lower the country’s flags and declare a national day of mourning.

“For these children and the many others!” said Chief R. Stacey Laforme, elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN), in an open letter to Trudeau on Saturday, May 29.

Brampton mayor Patrick Brown, Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger, and Burlington mayor Marianne Meed Ward similarly requested the flags at City Hall and city facilities be lowered.

Plans are being made to identify and return home the remains of the 215 children found in Kamloops, B.C., says a provincial Indigenous leader.

The Kamloops Indian Band wants to undertake the “heart-wrenching” process to eventually tell the stories of the children and bring peace to their families, said Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations regional chief.

The effort could involve the B.C. Coroners Service, the Royal B.C. Museum and forensics experts, he said.

Teegee said he has been meeting with Indigenous leaders from across B.C. to decide what steps to take next.

“Really, I think what needs to occur is perhaps some sort of discovery and perhaps some forensics about who these children were, where are they from if that’s possible,” he said in an interview from Prince George.

“And perhaps repatriation to their respective communities because the students come from not only the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc area but also neighbouring communities and as far north as Fort Nelson,” he said.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

She described the discovery as “an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

Teegee said the Kamloops discovery has shed more light on Canada’s dark residential school history.

“This really resurfaces the issue of residential schools and the wounds from this legacy of genocide towards Indigenous people,” he said.

The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969. The federal government took over the facility’s operation from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission has records of at least 51 children dying at the school between 1915 and 1963.

With files from The Canadian Press

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