COTE FIRST NATION -- Students from a Saskatchewan First Nation took time Wednesday to remember children who died at residential schools and honour the 215 children whose remains were found in Kamloops, B.C.

The students and staff at the Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex on Cote First Nation near Kamsack wore orange shirts and placed flags in memory of the children who died.

“We are here to show that we care, we remember, and that we will always think about them”, said Jonas Cote, principal at Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex.

The memorial began with prayers, followed with speeches from elders, the chief and council. In their speeches, the speakers explained to the students the impact that residential schools have had within the community and the many lives lost because of it.

“That is always going to be there. They are always going to remember that and it just symbolizes as First Nations, we care about our youth, our young people, and our history,” said Jonas.

The students also heard from a residential school survivor, Reginald Severight, who them about the abuse he experienced at residential school. He explained it wasn’t until a decade later, while in recovery, that he understood the long-term adversity it caused.

“I got into recovery about 40 years ago from addictions [and] dysfunctional living. I didn’t realize why I was using so much drugs and alcohol, and I was in a prison system since I was 15 till I was 22,” said Severight.

The Cote First Nation hopes moving forward, the community can come together and pave the way for future generations positively.

If you are a former residential school student 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: 1-866-925-4419

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.