Winnipeg neighbours create memorial for 215 children found buried near former residential school in Kamloops

Canadians across the country, including two Winnipeg neighbours, continue to show support for the 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Following the news of the grim discovery on Thursday, Tracy Kawakami decided to make a display honouring the children at her McMillan area home on Sunday.

It started with a small sign that caught her neighbour's attention.

"I just asked if there was anything I could do to help," said Gwen Reimer-Dreikluft, Kawakami's neighbour.

Together the pair spent almost five hours cutting out 215 orange hearts, one for every child discovered at the residential school.

"We really just wanted people to talk about it. To acknowledge the Indigenous pain. To acknowledge the lives that were lost and to actually bring awareness to the community and people who didn't realize," said Kawakami.

Kawakami said the display emphasizes the children were real people, loved by their families.

"You see 215 and it doesn't seem real. It's just a number," she said. "To represent each child with a heart, it impacts you more and it brings it home that it's not just a number. Those were lives."

The neighbours hope the display will spark some conversation as well as some education.

"I hope that people in the non-Indigenous community will start asking questions and showing concern and start having a deeper understanding of what the Indigenous people have gone through in this country," Reimer-Dreikluft said.

"I want people to ask and maybe learn things about residential schools that are kind of glossed over," said Kawakami.

Unrelated displays honouring the children have also been set up at The Forks and the Manitoba Legislative Building.