'It's worldwide': International attention on Canada's residential schools after Kamloops discovery

A year after the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc announced the discovery of what they believed were more than 200 unmarked graves of schoolchildren, the ripple effects continue, with sustained attention the world over.

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School generated worldwide headlines and the horrifying discovery and prompted First Nations across Canada to begin their own investigations into local institutional sites, prompting more announcements of suspected unmarked graves.

Those stories continue to generate international headlines and reportage across the globe, including sustained, in-depth reporting from journalism heavyweights like the New York Times and 60 Minutes.

A vigil at the Vancouver Art Gallery, about to mark a year of displaying 215 children’s shoes to symbolize the lost Kamloops children, is drawing support from overseas visitors and local passersby. 

"We have a lot of people from Africa, we have a lot of people from Australia, it's worldwide,” said Desiree Simeon, a Haida woman who is one of the caretakers of the memorial. ”They came here and said they saw us on the news…This is what we were looking for, to open more eyes to what we've known for generation after generation of this abuse." 

The outrage and scrutiny over the revelations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse – in addition to the burial next to the institutions – has also prompted an apology from the Pope, who is coming to Canada to address the matter, and calls for the Queen of England to do the same. 

Despite the spotlight on reconciliation andIindigenous issues, the federal government acknowledges its made limited progress. First Nations leaders are still seeking documents and support, including financial contributions, in addition to what’s already been provided. At least 70 investigations are now underway.