Toronto. Over the past few years we have seen and heard about the horrific discoveries that began at the the Kamloops Residential School. These shocking stories culminated in a visit by Indigenous Canadian delegates to the Vatican, an apology by the Pope, and a visit here by the Pope.
Each year, there is a World Press Photo series and this year it includes one showing the graves unearthed at the Kamloops Residential School as photographed by Amber Bracken of Edmonton and published in the prestigious newspaper, The New York Times. This entry is accompanied by the following caption and story:
“Caption: Red dresses hung on crosses along a roadside commemorate children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, an institution created to assimilate Indigenous children, following the detection of as many as 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia.
“Story: The hanging of red dresses as a visual response to the disproportionate violence faced by women with an Indigenous heritage began in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 2011; orange shirts are also used, specifically to acknowledge suffering caused to children by the residential school system in Canada.
“Residential schools began operating in the 19th century as part of a policy of assimilating people from various Indigenous communities into Western, and predominantly Christian culture.
“Students were removed from their homes and parents – frequently by force – and often forbidden to communicate in their own languages. Their hair was cut short, and they had to wear uniforms, rather than traditional clothing, were given Euro?Christian names in place of their own, and were subject to physical and sometimes sexual abuse.
“Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin claimed Canada used the institutions to commit cultural genocide.”