On an outside wall of David Thompson elementary, there is a striking sea of orange handprints alongside a message proclaiming “Every child matters.”
The handprints were applied to the wall by the Westsyde school’s students in memory of the 215 children whose remains were found on grounds near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, as announced last month by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
Principal Berni Linfitt said the idea came from intermediate teacher Christine McCauley and is designed as a tribute to those lives lost.
“Our numbers at the school are 225, which is very close to the number of bodies (215) that were found,” Linfitt said.
“It kind of made reality hit when you take a look at the numbers in the school. The kids really made a connection to it. It was quite something to see.”
Orange is the colour used to recognize the impact residential schools have had on the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
The term “Every Child Matters” is linked to Every Child Matters: Reconciliation Through Education, a magazine published by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and written by award-winning Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith.
The magazine, which is based on the Seven Sacred Teachings, is aimed at students in grades 5 to 12, with each chapter teaching children about residential schools, treaties and the historic and current relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.