Remembering the Children Memorial

  • Attendees of the memorial. The grave marker that was unveiled is in the centre. Sharon Pasula

Remembering the Children Society (RTCS) hosted a Memorial Unveiling on September 28 to acknowledging the previously unmarked graves of four Indigenous students who died at the Red Deer Industrial School. It operated from 1893-1919 under the Methodist Church (now the United Church of Canada) and federal government auspices.

During the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, the staff and students of the Red Deer Industrial School were so sick that the city undertaker needed to be called to attend to the burial of four children in the Red Deer City Cemetery rather than the residential school cemetery. The Red Deer Industrial School had one of the highest mortality rates of any school in Canada. The names of the children buried at the Red Deer Cemetery are: David Lightning, Georgina House, Sarah Soosay, and Jane Baptiste. They are believed to be from Samson Cree Nation and perhaps from Paul Nation. Family members of only one of the children have been found – that of David Lightning – and his nephew, Richard Lightning, is the current President of the Society.

The event began with a pipe ceremony which was attended by many Elders and dignitaries including, Chief Wilton Littlechild, former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

A formal program was held at the Roland Michener Recreation Centre where the keynote speaker, Stephen Kakfwi, former premier of the Northwest Territories informed the people why the ceremony needed to take place. His brief presentation can be viewed on “YouTube”: Mr. Kakfwi is also a singer, former residential school student, and husband to Dr. Marie Wilson, former TRC commissioner.

Check out the RTCS Facebook page to see the full program and many more photos.

Sharon lives in Boyle Street.

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