Ceremony in St. Catharines to honour lives lost at residential schools

St. Catharines City Hall

A special ceremony in St. Catharines will honour the lives lost at residential schools.

The Niagara Regional Native Centre is hosting a physically distanced ceremony at city hall to remove the shoes left on the steps, symbolizing the 215 children whose remains were found in BC.

Although the events in BC served as a wake up call for many, Executive Director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre and co-host of One Dish One Mic Karl Dockstader says the pain is not new to many from this area who were forced from their homes here to go to residential schools all across the country.

"The Mohawk Institute is the closest. My grandmother went to Mount Elgin, which is just on the other side of London, our family being mostly form Oneida. But in many cases they would take Indigenous students from any reserve and, in the case of my grandfather, he got shipped up to Brandon, Manitoba."

Dockstader says the community push is growing as Canadians, some for the first time, join Indigenous communities to demand an apology from the Catholic Church for the role they played in the residential school system.

"The momentum is growing, the status quo needs to change. And if they Catholic Church and the Pope don't make that change, they are going to find themselves behind the people and not on the ride side of this issue, which they haven't been for a long time. But there's still time to figure it out."

In the interest of public safety, residents who wish to take part in the ceremony at noon today are asked to watch through the livestream on the NRNC Facebook page.