First Nations host ceremony to honour residential school victims in Victoria

The Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations are holding a ceremony Tuesday to honour the 215 children whose remains were discovered last month at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

The ceremony will begin with a canoe protocol in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, followed by prayers and a drum circle on the lawn of the B.C. legislature.

"This is our time to honour the 215 children and to stand with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc people," said Songhees Chief Ron Sam in a statement Tuesday morning. "We support their call for governments to increase support for pathways for healing."

The First Nations say the timing of the memorial is meant to coincide with the re-raising of flags that have been flaying at half-staff at the legislature and Victoria city hall for 215 hours.

"Joining our procession will be representation from other Nations from across Vancouver Island and we’ll all be wearing orange shirts," organizer Cecelia Dick said in the statement.

“Gathering together for song and prayer is our way of healing," she added. "Although some invited MLAs and city councillors will attend, they will join us only to witness and learn."

Ceremony schedule:

  • 11:30 a.m. - Canoes arrive at protocol corner (southeast corner of Lower Causeway)
  • Noon - Walking procession to legislature grounds
  • 12:15 p.m. - Drum circle begins