Stuffed animals line Carleton Place fence in honour of Indigenous children who died at residential schools

Sarina Elliott is silent as she walks by.

“It really broke my heart for the 215 children,” she said through an interpreter afterwards.

Elliott is visiting the memorial for the 215 Indigenous children found buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. She is also there to remember a loved one.

“It helps me remember my grandma as a residential school survivor and other people too that I know,” she said.

Calling it the ‘recognition fence’, Carleton Place resident Olivia Salvatori was inspired by people leaving teddy bears out on their porch.

“People are going to wonder why they have teddy bears on porches if they don’t realize what happened,” Salvatori said. “So we asked for people in the community to place a bear on the fence to recognize missing and lost Indigenous children.”

With hours, boxes were filled. On Monday, a smudging ceremony took place on the school grounds before the bears were added.

There are more than 300 stuffed animals lining the fence. Salvatori said they will stay there until June 9, marking 215 hours, one hour honouring each child.

Salvatori hopes the recognition fence serves as a visual reminder of the Indigenous lives lost, and that it starts a dialogue about residential schools in communities.