When Chief Junior Gould of the Abegweit First Nation thinks of the 215 children whose corpses were discovered at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., he also thinks of his father, who was a student at a residential school in Nova Scotia. “What if he’s buried in one of those forgotten graves? As a result, Chief Gould would no longer exist. That would imply that my daughter, a nurse, would no longer exist ” Gould stated.
Gould believes it is vital for the community to remember those who have died, therefore he is asking for donations of children’s shoes on P.E.I. The goal is to stack 215 pairs of them as a memorial outside the First Nation’s administration offices. The location will also include imitation graves, and survivors of residential schools are scheduled to attend a ceremony there on Monday afternoon if enough shoes have been gathered by then.
He explained, “We’re going to do it as a First Nation honor to our children that are buried in unmarked graves around the country.” The shoes, according to Gould, will be set out in a way that honors the people lost while also sparking dialogue.
Within Indigenous communities, he continued, the atrocities that occurred in residential schools are well-known. He hopes, however, that this sparks a bigger debate outside of First Nation communities. He hopes that by including more people in understanding the past, more people will be part of the solution in the future.
Premier Dennis King stated Sunday evening that the province, like the federal government, will fly the flags at government administrative buildings and schools at half-mast until sunset on June 8. The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils on the Island, which regulates and governs groups that work in the common interest of Abegweit First Nation and Lennox Island First Nation, issued a statement on Sunday.