Orange ribbons on Ottawa tree reflect on the lives lost at Canada's residential schools

On a quiet street of an Ottawa east end neighbourhood more than 1,000 orange ribbons can be found hanging from a maple tree.

"It’s our memorial and space for our community to come together, reflect and talk about these issues," said Veronica Schleihof, a Beacon Hill resident.

The 28-year-old decorated the tree with more than 1,300 ribbons- each one represents the known lives lost of Indigenous children at Canada’s former residential schools.

"I was scared to talk about this at first," she said. "I didn't know what types of conversations we’d be having but the community has really come together."

In a matter of days neighbours and other residents of Hamelin Crescent joined the effort. They came by to hang a ribbon of their own, to donate orange fabric for the ribbons or to simply take a moment to reflect.

In addition to the orange ribbons, people are invited to scan the QR Code on the poster placed on the tree, which sends people to a copy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the 94 calls to action.

"It’s their spirit, their story that's leading this nation forward to making the changes that we need,” said Deborah Dorner, Schleihauf’s mother. 

Beacon Hill-Cyrville coun. Tim Tierney also adding the effort to reflect is a sentiment shared across his area.

"This is the year to listen," said Tierney. "We’ve seen many of these outpouring of support within our community."

At a property on nearby Elmridge Crescent, hundreds of mini orange shirts made from construction paper line this front lawn of this home.

The two sites of orange are now part of a greater nationwide conversation confronting a dark chapter in Canada’s history.