On May 27, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found buried on the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. The federal government has since begun an inquiry into how many Indigenous children died within the state-run and state-funded system. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report said there were more than 6,000 deaths, but former commission chair, Murray Sinclair, says that the total is likely much higher.

Four months later, on Sept. 30, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was a day of solemn remembrance across Canada. This is how the day unfolded as captured by 17 students studying photojournalism at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.

More than 1,000 people congregated on Parliament Hill for Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada organized an Eagle Feather Ceremony and other morning events, which were followed by an afternoon of food, activities and speeches at Confederation Park. (Photo © Natasha Bulowski)
Another child adds their handprint to an interactive art installation at Confederation Park on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The red handprints represent missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and the orange represent victims of residential schools. (Photo © Natasha Bulowski)
A couple arrives at the vigil for lost children to find a crowd of people there to support the cause. (Photo © Michael Edgar)
A young woman, motionless, poses with an ornate sculpture comprised of boughs and rope. (Photo © Matias Bessai)
A demonstrator waves the flag of the Mohawk Warrior Society on Parliament Hill as the crowd begins to depart for the Spirit Walk. (Photo © Matias Bessai)
Joseph Monette, 59, drummed at the “Remember Me” gathering on Parliament Hill on Sept. 30. Monette, whose spirit name is “Quiet Wolf”, lives in Maniwaki, Quebec, and Ottawa, Ontario. He is a member of the Algonquin First Nation. The drum Monette brought to the gathering is special, and he only uses it for ceremonies. “It carries your spirit,” he said. “It carries your emotions.” (Photo © Ariel Harker)
At Confederation Park, four-year-old Maxine George enjoys a doughnut while her 36-year-old mother, Heather George, speaks to the organizers of Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance. The pair came to support George’s uncles, Doug George-Kaneentiio and Dean George, one of whom made a speech at the opening ceremonies at Parliament Hill. (Photo © Natasha Bulowski)
Jonel Beauvais, a Wolf Clan woman from Akwesasne, speaks to a crowd of more than 1,000 people on Parliament Hill at the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. “We just want the truth to be told,” says Beauvais. “Because we all know that things that happen in the dark all come to light. (Photo © Ann Pill)
Hayden Stewart meditates in front of a vigil for the discovered remains of residential school victims at Remic Rapids Park along the Ottawa River. Stewart says he uses meditation as a way to cope with difficult emotions in his daily life. (Photo © Michael Edgar).

If you are a residential school survivor in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, toll-free line 1-800-721-0066

Contributors: Matias Bessai, Natasha Bulowski, Kendra Dyer, Michael Edgar, Maryann Enns, Ariel Harker, Erin Hood, Emma Jackson, Melissa Marchewka, Tala Muhtadi, Cate Newman, Gillian Peebles, Ann Pill, Harriet Smith, Camille Vinet and Becca Weston.