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In Grade 10 English this year, students have been leaning into some challenging conversations about grief, loss and prejudice. Students have explored how compassion and empathy can allow us to understand the perspective of others. Grade 10 English this quadmester took some time in class to reflect on the tragic discovery of 215 children whose remains were found at the former residential school in Kamloops.  Students wrote responses as they reflected on the image of 215 children's shoes that have been placed on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery as a memorial to the 215 children whose remains were found in Kamloops. Read our students’ moving responses as they try to process this unimaginable tragedy.

“The lost children who disappeared, never to be seen again. I watch a woman dressed in an orange shirt, still shedding tears as she climbs into her rusty car. Her eyes were fixed upon the yellow sandal beside me, in the vain hope that there might be life in it once again. It is useless. She looks down at her hands, worrying about the road that lies ahead. The sadness corrupts my inner soul and my heart bleeds a river inside. Nothing can change the wretchedness I feel. Some are shouting for justice, some are muttering quiet words to themselves, and some are simply staring out at the sea of shoes.”
- Ava, Grade 10

“Row after row of shoes sit quietly on the stairs. The shoes dance in colour and cry in sorrow. The lonesome shoes lined across the concrete long for a home. They call out but no one acknowledges them. Sadness fills them. Shoe after shoe calls out for hope but their voices go unheard.” - Ethan, Grade 10

“An older woman tugs her shawl tight over her shoulders and kneels down in front of me. She whispers quiet words that float out and away before they are heard. It doesn't matter. I understand their intent. Tears wet her worn face and I see her.”
- Victoria, Grade 10

“The grey and cold stones seem to show their solidarity to the colorful and diverse shoes on the solemn stairs in front of the museum”
- Sibo, Grade 10

“What happened to those children shouldn't have in a million years ever happened. They were innocent souls. Pure kids who had their entire lives ahead of them to be their own people, to have families and make memories. But their last few memories were those of fear and sadness, as they were trapped inside of the prison that was the residential schools. All their ambitions stomped out like loose embers.”
- Sara, Grade 10

“Just kids who had parents and siblings, who were taken away from their family in the first place and then were buried at their school. Imagine what they had to go through.”
– Anzhela, Grade 10

“The clouds are gloomy yet the sun still shines bright. We are brought together today to not only mourn but also to build on each other and build on this.”
-Javir, Grade 10

“It was like each shoe was calling out to me for help, to save them from the horrible things they experienced in those residential schools.”
-Sarah, Grade 10

“The gravel beneath my feet remind me of the times I tried to run from the trauma that became my living hell. I look down at myself and break down into tears. Where were my colourful clothes that my parents gifted me? Where was my braided hair that was my identity? The scraps of clothing I am wearing now, ripped and torn painfully similar to the cuts on my skin and my character. My feet aching, and my throat longing for a cold drink. My identity now unknown.”
- Jessie, Grade 10

Laptop with browser tab opened of a photo of 215 pairs of children's shoes