'We just want change': Lethbridge flooded with orange on a Canada Day like no other

This year's Canada Day comes just over a month after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the remains of 215 children were found buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing

For hundreds of people in Lethbridge, Canada Day is not cause for celebration.

Instead, it's a time to reflect and mourn the loss of thousands of indigenous children who died at residential schools across the country.

For those who ditched red clothing to don orange in support of the 'Every Child Matters' movement, the impacts of residential schools and the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples nationwide is a conversation that is long overdue.

"As Indigenous people, you could see that we are struggling. It seems like no one knew why, because our history was never taught. I remember going to high school and only being taught a little bit about the Indian Act," said rally attendee Chate-lane Fox.

"I always felt like an outsider, my skin colour was different, I was picked on. So, now I hope that people fully understand why it's so hard to co-exist."

This year's Canada Day comes just over a month after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the remains of 215 children were found buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Since then, 751 unmarked graves were located near a residential school in Saskatchewan, and 182 unmarked graves were found just outside of Cranbrook B.C.

"We have people here on the streets who are battling those demons," said another attendee at Thursday's rally Tatiana Weasel Moccasin.

"What Canada doesn't understand or keeps denying is that a lot of these homeless people, they are survivors of residential schools."

Organizers say they're encouraged by not only the large turnout in Lethbridge, but also the diverse range of people who came out to show their support and listen to survivors and elders.

"We want to help educate people so that they understand why we're mourning and why we're hurting, and why we're not celebrating on Canada Day," said one of the event organizers Ava Mountain Horse Singer.

The rally started with a march down Mayor Magrath Drive and past City Hall, ending at Galt Gardens where people gathered in the shade to hide away from the sweltering heat and listen to stories from indigenous peoples

"These are our stories. We're not asking you to feel guilty or pain, we just want change. We want change for out babies. We don't want them to face hardships or discrimination," said Weasel Moccasin.

Thursday's event wrapped up with a candle light vigil in Galt Gardens.

If you are a former residential school student 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.

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here