The Dene Nation hosted a memorial walk in Yellowknife today in memory of the children found buried in a mass-grave underneath an old residential school in Kamloops.
A large crowd gathered at Sir John Franklin High School, and walked in a long procession to St. Patrick’s Church, and the RCMP headquarters, where speeches were given.
A feeding the fire ceremony was held at Somba Ke’e Park, with the scene becoming emotional for some.
A number of Chiefs from other communities gathered for the event and gave speeches, recounting their experience in residential schools and their desire for truth and healing for residential school survivors and for those impacted.
Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chiefs Ed Sangris from Dettah and Ernest Betsina from N’dilo, Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie, Grand Chief Wilbert Kochon of the Sahtu Dene Council, Chief Gerry Cheezie of the Salt River First Nation stood and spoke in front of a rapt crowd.
Speaking in front of the church, Paul Andrews, a former Tulita Chief and CBC broadcaster said learning from the past and protecting future generations was key.
“We’re going to make sure they get better,” said Andrews. “They deserve not to be separated from their loved ones, their families, their friends, their culture, their language, never ever again.”
Dene Nation Chief Norman Yakelaya led the march for much of the route.
He called for the federal government to form a tribunal, to provide answers to Indigenous families about what happened to children in residential schools.