February 26, 2022

Canada Day rallies held in and around Edmonton in support of residential school victims

While many residents in and around Edmonton spent Canada Day celebrating the holiday, some used the day to show their support for those impacted by residential schools.

A convoy of 100 trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles travelled from River Cree Casino to Bear Park in Ermineskin Cree Nation to honour those lost in the schools.

The Legacy Run also included healing dances and other ceremonies upon arrival at the final destination. Organizers were happy with the turnout and support.

“We’ve got people that travelled so far just to come and stand with us, and it says a lot,” said Legacy Run organizer Bob Smallboy.

“It’s rare for our people to get this kind of support, and it means a lot to all of us: the volunteers, the survivors, the children.”

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READ MORE: Canada Day arrives as country reels from residential school discoveries

Meanwhile, prisoners at the Edmonton Institution joined inmates across the country in a hunger strike on Canada Day in support of those affected by the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools.

The inmates started the hunger strike at midnight Thursday and planned to continue for 24-hours — going with no food or water in a show of solidarity.

“A lot of prisoners are either survivors or victims of residential schools, or they have family that are, so it’s something that they wanted to participate in,” said Beyond Prison Walls Canada founder Sherri Maier.

READ MORE:182 human remains in unmarked graves found at site of former residential school in Cranbrook, B.C.

A day prior to Canada Day, it was announced that another 182 human remains were found at a former residential school site.

The Lower Kootenay Band confirmed Wednesday that ground-penetrating radar revealed the human remains in unmarked graves at the site of the old St. Eugene’s Mission Residential School in Cranbrook, B.C.

The finding follows the discovery of the estimated remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops and an estimated 751 unmarked graves at the site of the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

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Maier said inmates in Saskatchewan, B.C. and Ontario also participated in the hunger strike.

“I think it’s just important to remember all of those victims who never made it home,” Maier said.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton asking residents to reflect on residential schools on Canada Day

The City of Edmonton encouraged residents to reflect Canada’s history and the residential school system on Canada Day.

“This year, in the tail end of this pandemic and when horrors from our past are at the forefront of our minds, let’s move forward together to build a stronger, more diverse and more inclusive country,” Mayor Don Iveson said on Wednesday.

Iveson said the city reached out to the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations to get its guidance on how to mark the country’s birthday in light of the findings and was encouraged to “take a sombre and reflective tone.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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