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Kawartha Lakes looks to honour those who lost their lives at residential schools

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The City of Kawartha Lakes is expressing sorrow, following further findings of mass or unmarked graves at or near former residential school sites.

At the start of a council meeting, on Tuesday, June 29th, Mayor Andy Letham had a pair of children’s shoes in front of him on the council chambers desk.

Mayor Letham explained, they were there “to remind us of 751 lives, many of them children, who never came home from their residential school in Saskatchewan.”

On Thursday, June 24th, the Cowessess First Nation announced the finding of 751 unmarked graves near a former residential school.

“This is in addition to the 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops. We pause to reflect on this tremendous loss. On behalf of Council and the entire municipality, we offer our deepest condolences to the families of those whose remains were found in Saskatchewan. We offer heartfelt sympathy to the Cowessess First Nation and our neighbouring First Nations communities: Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation,” Mayor Letham added.

The Kawartha Lakes’ mayor also had a message for all Canadians.

“As Canadians, this is our time to educate ourselves, take action and raise awareness of the tragic history [which] has unfolded from [within] the residential school system and its lasting effects on so many lives today. As a municipality, we will continue to acknowledge these atrocities and address the need for reconciliation with action.”

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