Fires burning at Niagara Native Centres for residents to pay tribute to children found dead in BC

fire native

Niagara is mourning the loss of 215 children found dead in a mass grave at a former residential school in B.C.

Municipal flags will remain lowered for 215 hours to honour each of the children, and fires are burning at two Native centres.

Executive Director at Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre and President of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Jennifer Dockstader joined CKTB's Tom McConnell saying the fires are burning for people to make offerings.

"We welcome everyone to come and make their offerings at the fire. We will be following Covid-19 guidelines. The fire will be near our Residential School Memorial Tree and Stone." The fire will burn until tomorrow afternoon at 2:15 p.m.

A fire keeper will be on site to direct residents. Common offerings are tobacco and white sage.

A second fire is also burning at the Niagara Regional Native Centre on Airport Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

Dockstader says the news of the mass grave is not a surprise since they knew deaths were not reported properly at the schools, where abuse and starvation were common.

She says the best thing people can do, is to allow them to grieve.  

"These children were so lost for so long."

Dockstader says she doesn't want to get into the phase of next steps, she is just wanting to let the community grieve right now.

She says that's why the sacred fires are burning, for anyone who feels the need to make an offering, or to just pay tribute to the children.