Skip to content

That was 2021: Shoes symbolize grief for Indigenous children

Two vigils were held in Richmond after news broke about unmarked graves found at a former residential school in B.C.
Tsartlip First Nation member Renee Robinson performed a smudging ceremony at a vigil this summer at Richmond library plaza.

Two vigils at library square this summer, to honour victims of residential schools, gave a space for Richmondites to show their respect and grieve lives lost.

Over a week’s time, children’s shoes, toys and flowers were gathering at library square with chalk messages written in the plaza in solidarity with First Nations.

Canada was rocked earlier in the summer by the news that human remains of up to 215 people were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School — the remains are thought to be children, taken from their homes to attend the school, who never returned.

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis people were forced to attend residential schools in Canada, run by churches, where many suffered emotional and sexual abuse. They weren’t permitted to speak their languages or practise their culture.

The shoes from the Richmond vigils were later burned at a private ceremony attended by First Nations.