Hundreds of teddy bears placed in support of residential school victims and survivors

STONEY NAKODA FIRST NATION, ALTA. — Alberta’s Indigenous communities are remembering the children who lost their lives in the country’s many residential schools with a poignant tribute.

Members of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation set up a display along Highway 1 on Friday.

Teddy bears and orange ribbon were tied to the fence in a show of support to victims and their families — and to the millions still feeling the impact of the schools today.

“I know looking at the bad parts of history, nobody wants to do so,” nation member and organizer Chris Goodstoney told CTV News. “But I feel that it brings justice to the victims that are still present today (and) acknowledges the suffering and the pain that they were put through. I’m hoping these bears will get people to ask questions.”

At the end of May, remains of 215 children who were buried in unmarked graves were located near Canada’s largest residential school near Kamloops, B.C.

The original idea for the Alberta tribute was to put up 215 bears to signify the number of graves, but Goodstoney says he’s “very confident” more remains will be found across Canada when proper searches are conducted.

That’s why the tribute is now approaching 250 bears and why Goodstoney says it’s growing every day.

Canada had 146 residential schools. At least 25 of them were in Alberta.

Stoney Nakoda members say more education around the country’s treatment of Indigenous people is needed.

“Nobody is asking to change or rewrite Canadian history,” Goodstoney said. “All we are requesting is acknowledgment, peace, respect and justice.

“Let’s focus on healing our people. We all play a part in this.”

The tribute is near the Highway 40 overpass.

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