Hundreds of people dressed in orange shirts for National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day, walking from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to St. John’s Park on Thursday afternoon.
Survivors from residential schools gathered on the steps of the CMHR for an opening prayer before the sounds of drums and chants flooded the streets.
Walkers chanted “All Kids Matter,” danced and cheered as cars drove south on Main Street, honking and waving in support.
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Destiny Campos and her family sat on the outskirts of the massive crowd in the park. Campos said the turnout far exceeded his expectations.
“I knew it was going to be busy, but not that busy, so that’s really nice,” Campos said.
There was a missing family member: Campos’s mother.
Campos, a survivor of a residential school, said her mother was not ready to attend the day’s events.
“They took her when she was about five years old, they told her she was going to a barbecue,” Campos said. “The first thing they did was cut her hair.”
Campos’ daughter Faith said her grandmother doesn’t talk much about her time in the residential school system and doesn’t expect her to.
“She knows when she’s ready to open up about those stories and really share them, you know, she’s shared a bit with me, but I know that’s not the whole story,” Faith said.
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Both Faith and Destiny hope the magnitude of Thursday’s events will continue, saying the talks must continue beyond National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
“There are no more excuses, the Internet is literally at your fingertips,” Destiny said, encouraging people to listen to the stories of their neighbors, the elderly and friends.
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