Residential school memorial finds permanent home at Moose Jaw museum

Five hundred shoes that were once displayed on the steps of St. Andrews United Church have found a new home in at the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery.

Kayleigh and Cassidy Olson wanted to make sure the discovery of 215 children’s bodies at a residential school in Kamloops, would never be forgotten.

Kayliegh (left) and Cassidy (right) Olson created the Lost Children of the Residential School System exhibit. (Alison MacKinnon/CTV News)

The sisters created the Lost Children of the Residential School System exhibit to help continue the conversation about residential schools.

“It's pretty powerful, to look at them and see all the shoes and know that each shoe had a story and to know that somebody had laid those on the steps for a reason,” Cassidy Olson said Sunday.

"Those conversations are hard to have and hard to accept, especially when you weren't a part of it, it’s just to educate and get people understanding and yeah wanting to be a part of the change.”

The Olson’s family are survivors of residential schools, so the sisters wanted to show support and solidarity for those grieving and harmed.

“They know it has to be done, as hard as it is and they still carry that trauma inside so I think it's even better that we do talk about it because at the end of the day the trauma is still there,” Kayleigh said.

The sisters said they've seen a shift in understanding from people of all backgrounds, following the recent discoveries of bodies buried at residential school sites.

"We're super blessed people [are] coming in and showing interest in wanting to educate and like it would have been awesome to like donate them [the shoes] to a community, but I think this is like more beneficial in the long run. People start those conversations and understanding one another,” Kayleigh said.

The sisters are hoping the exhibit continues the conversation surrounding residential schools and their lasting impacts on Indigenous people across Canada.

"People are now realizing you don't have to go to the States to realize and understand what racism is and colonialization. As awful as it is, it is just so awesome this is coming out," Kayleigh added.

The exhibit will remain a permanent fixture at the museum.