COLORADO SPRINGS — After a heartbreaking discovery at a former Canadian residential school last month, one local group says there is more where that came from, and they took to the streets in Colorado Springs to let the world know.
It’s not ancient history. In fact, the institutions Marcelina Ramirez marched about Saturday operated during most of our lifetimes.
“The last residential school closed not too long ago,” Ramirez said. “I think the last one closed in 1996. My little brother was born in 1996.”
She’s talking about residential schools like the one in Kamloops, British Columbia, where officials recently discovered the remains of 215 indigenous children in unmarked grave sites.
“It’s not just Canada, it’s here as well,” she said.
The schools became commonplace in North America starting in the late 1800s. Mostly run by catholic churches, indigenous children were forced to attend them.
“Not only were they taken from their families, but they were stripped of their language, of their traditions,” she said. “And on top of that they were mentally, physically and sexually abused.”
It’s what brought her and countless others to monument valley park Saturday.
“What brings me here is… my grandmother went to residential catholic school,” Ramirez said.
A group of around 100 people marched a mile to and from the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs. They carried 215 pairs of shoes and left them at the diocese, representing the 215 bodies discovered at that Canadian school site. Because they believe the discovery at the school in Canada was just the tip of the iceberg.
“These children deserve justice. Every single residential school needs to be investigated,” Ramirez said.