Hundreds of people gathered at Kings Square in Saint John for a candlelight vigil in recognition of 215 Indigenous children discovered buried near a former residential school in British Columbia.
Urban Indigenous group Eastern Circle organized the vigil and broadcast it live from their Facebook page.
They spoke of the immense pain endured by the families of those children and how the memory of the residential school system haunts their own families. They called for school records to be released and for reconciliation.
Eastern Circle co-founder Kateri Hibbert said there are 5,000 Indigenous people living in Saint John and surrounding areas. She noted several candidates in last month’s municipal elections were not aware of the Indigenous population.
“We are not forgotten,” Hibbert shouted, to loud cheers from the crowd gathered. “We are still here!”
The ceremony included songs and drumming, and 215 seconds of silence, one for each child discovered near the former Kamloops Residential School.
The group also took donations to be sent to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.