YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found underground at the site of what was once Canada's largest residential school for indigenous children. Tonight, the community is invited to an event that looks to bring awareness.
They were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. The school closed in 1978.
A 2015 investigation reports horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition, and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended these types of schools, which are typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.
It found more than 4,100 children died while attending residential school.
However, the 215 children are believed to not be included in that larger figure and it appears to have been undocumented until the discovery.
Roxanne Barley is part of the Cocopah tribe and is an indigenous woman herself. She’s looking to bring awareness by bringing the community together Saturday evening.
"What we've been saying all these years, for decades, has finally surfaced up," she said. "Back then in the past, when they abducted our children and fought our men and fought our women," Barley added.
"We had everything that we needed. We had nature, we had mother earth, we had our traditions we had our culture. We had our own way of doing things and understanding the way of life," the organizer explained.
The awareness and prayer walk will take place tonight at 7 starting at the crescent Center on 24th Street and 4th Avenue.
Barley tells me many people in our community have been affected by the tragedy and hopes that others will see how important this is to indigenous people.
It all begins with a moment of silence and prayer. They’re asking everyone to wear orange.