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‘We can never forget’: Lheidli T’enneh raises new residential school memorial flag

Lheidli T’enneh ends 215-day period of mourning with memorial flag raising at City Hall

Lheidli T’enneh has raised a new flag at Prince George City Hall in remembrance of the children found at the former Kamloops Residential School and the thousands of others found at residential schools across the country last year.

In early June, Lheidli T’enneh Chief and Council asked all of its partners who fly the Lheidli T’enneh flag to lower them to half-mast for a period of 215 days.

Jan. 4, 2022 marks the end of that 215 day period and Lheidli T’enneh held a special ceremony to raise its new flag which features an orange ribbon in the lower right hand corner.

“The shock of hearing about 215 graves at Kamloops Residential School had First Nations and non-First Nations reeling in such deep sorrow,” said Lheildi T’enneh Elder Darlene McIntosh during an opening prayer in council chambers before the flag-raising.

“When our people expressed what had happened to our beautiful children they were scorned and not believed. Do you believe it now? It is so hard to comprehend this unspeakable tragedy. Indian residential schools are a painful reminder of the dark and shameful chapter in our country’s history. We are still tormented traumatized and empty, living the intergenerational trauma that still has not been healed.”

McIntosh prayed for everyone to make a powerful commitment in bringing awareness towards the shameful past Indigenous people have endured.

“Today we raise a new memorial flag as we continue our journey of never forgetting the tragedy that shook the world 215 days ago.”

Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dolleen Logan also gave an emotional speech about the flag-raising.

“Today as we raise our new flags at full mast, I am asking everyone to take five minutes to learn more about what really went on at residential schools. The orange ribbon on our flag will serve as a constant reminder for these children and their families and the communities that will never be forgotten. We can never ever forget the kids who never made it home.”

Mayor Hall said the past 215 days have been a learning journey to better understand history and what we need to do collectively for a better future.

“215 days ago, on June 2, 2021, we met in this very location to pay tribute and recognize the 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School, over the past months there has been more graves identified across our country and a realization throughout Canada that this is a national tragedy,” said Hall.

“When flags are lowered to half-mast It is an indication that something significant has occurred, in this case, it recognizes the grief of the finding of 215 unmarked graves and is a symbol to the entire community of our recognition and remembrance of this horrific finding. Raising the flag today does not and should not mark and end of recognition but a continuation of learning, understanding and creating a path of reconciliation.”