Organizers collect backpacks on steps of Sask. Legislative Building to represent unmarked graves
The steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building are full with over one thousand backpacks in honour of the 751 unmarked graves found on the grounds of Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation.
“We see you, we are here with you, we feel it too, we are grieving with them,” said Prairie Crowe, the organizer of the backpack donation. “We acknowledge them and we want them to know we are here with them and grieving with them.”
Originally, the goal was to donate 751 backpacks to children in need of school supplies, but the total number of backpacks has surpassed 1,000.
“We are overwhelmed and really appreciate it, we didn’t think we would get this big,” said Crowe. “We are very thankful, our hearts are full. We are very proud of our community.”
Most backpacks will be filled with school supplies before being donated. Staples East donated a number of items to help with the supply.
Kate Bieck, an organizer of the initiative, hopes that people of all cultures can come together to work through this challenging time.
“As those who have not experienced this personally, is just to show our compassion and our support and our allyship to those who have experienced it personally,” said Bieck.
Premier Scott Moe also dropped off a backpack earlier this week, saying this is a great opportunity to remember our past and also create something positive for the future.
Other organizations in Regina are also showing their support for residential school victims and survivors. The Gathering Place gave away free lawn signs in hopes of bringing people together.
“The message from the signs is that we all love our children,” said Erica Beaudin, the executive director of the Regina Treaty Status Indian Services. “We all can understand that hurt and pain. That loss. From that place of understanding and empathy, that is our connector to move forward as Canadians”
The Gathering Place plans to have supplementary signs to go along with the first one every time an unmarked gravesite is discovered.
If you are a residential school survivor in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419