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Canmore hospital becomes ceremony site for National Indigenous Peoples Day

Click to play video: 'Canmore hospital becomes ceremony site for National Indigenous Peoples Day' Canmore hospital becomes ceremony site for National Indigenous Peoples Day
WATCH: There's a different tone to gatherings marking this year's National Indigenous Peoples Day. Many ceremonies focused on the recent discovery of 215 children in the unmarked burial sites at a Kamloops residential school. As Jill Croteau reports, a touching event was held at the Canmore hospital. – Jun 21, 2021

The discoveries of the unmarked burial sites of 215 children at a residential school in Kamloops have raised a level of awareness that can’t be measured.

Many Indigenous leaders said while it is a traumatic and tragic truth, they feel people are now listening to their history.

Read more: ‘I want all of us to live with the burden:’ B.C. premier on remains of 215 children found at former residential school

It’s brought a whole new meaning to this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day.

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National Indigenous Peoples Day – Jun 21, 2021

Kenny Hunter is the Indigenous liason at the Canmore hospital. He organized a special ceremony Monday in a sacred space at the hospital, an area designated for Indigenous patients and their families to heal.

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Read more: ‘It’s blood-curdling’: Calls for accountability after burial site found at B.C. residential school

Hunter said it was a fitting backdrop for a ceremony marking National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“These 215 children that were found has shed a light and brought new attention that this really did happen. It exists.

“It’s a reality for Indigenous peoples,” Hunter said. “It has opened new wounds to our people and we have to bring that awareness to our non-Indigenous friends.”

The ceremony included young dancers and a drumming circle.

Children dancers outside Canmore Hospital. Jill Croteau/Global News

Many elders and other members of the Indigenous community tied orange ribbons in the trees in the area.

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Trent Fox is an Indigenous language and literacy educator. He said there is an awareness now that can’t be measured.

“It’s really illuminated the issue of Indigenous issues in Canada and how it has impacted our people,” Fox said. “They are looking at our stories in a more respectful way.”

Community members tie orange ribbons in the trees. Jill Croteau/Global News

The discoveries have validated other residential school survivors’ stories.

Click to play video: 'B.C. marks National Indigenous Peoples Day with calls for change' B.C. marks National Indigenous Peoples Day with calls for change
B.C. marks National Indigenous Peoples Day with calls for change – Jun 21, 2021

Read more: Hundreds of people join walk and ceremony at Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary

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Tina Poucette shared her painful past.

“People have to know what happened to us and they need to hear our story.

“When I left the residential school, I had no sense of self-esteem. I was worthless and I was told I would never amount to anything,” Poucette said.

“But during those times there was a little spirit in me always saying: ‘You can do it. I’ll show you.'”

Click to play video: 'National Indigenous People Day: A time for reflection' National Indigenous People Day: A time for reflection
National Indigenous People Day: A time for reflection – Jun 21, 2021

She said their heartbreaking histories are a lesson for the future.

“Look at how we have survived. Look at how we have overcome and how resilient we are.”

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