Orange shirts and orange baby socks are hanging from a tree at 594 Lakeshore Dr. in Penticton.
It’s a visual reminder of the atrocities that took place at Canada’s residential schools and of the recent discovery of 215 children’s remains at a Kamloops residential school.
Amanda Darnley, who identifies as Metis, put up the display because she felt compelled to do something.
“My heart was just broken reading about the discovery of those children in Kamloops. I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t just those 215 children, but so many children who have been abused, neglected and murdered at Canada’s residential schools.”
Her home is in a high visibility area of Penticton where many seniors, youth and visitors walk by.
“It’s an opportunity to pay some respect and hopefully spark important conversations.”
On Sunday night, she saw a mother and daughter stop at her display and read the sign.
“The daughter asked about residential schools and the mom explained it to her. We need to keep talking about this.”
While she has a niece who is Cree, and a relative through marriage whose family was taken to residential schools, she has no direct connections to residential schools.
“I really wanted to stand up and be an ally and do what I can to raise awareness.”
The Kamloops residential school was operated by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969 and was the largest residential school in Canada.
Darnley questions why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ended in 2015 when “we haven’t begun to have reconciliation.”
On Friday, May 28, the Penticton Indian Band, from which several elders were taken when they were children and forced into residential schools, made a statement asking for accountability for the 215 children.
“The children’s remains were members of families that were taken to be ‘educated’ and cared for by ‘supposed’ people of God. This sickening discovery is not only tragic, but is pure evil,” the PIB statement reads.
The B.C. Society of Indian Residential School Survivors is offering toll-free telephone support for survivors at 1-800-721-0066.
Flags hung at half mast on Sunday across the country, and teachers in B.C. wore orange shirts to pay their respects to those young lives.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was started in 2008 and ended in 2015 to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families and their communities affected by the horrors of residential schools in Canada.