Truck convoy moves through Ottawa to honour residential school victims

Truck convoy moves through Ottawa to honour residential school victims
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Ottawa truck driver Roger Steepe organized a truck convoy through the streets of downtown Ottawa Sunday, June 20, 2021, to honour Indigenous peoples and mark the deaths of 215 children whose remains were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. (Dave Charbonneau / CTV News Ottawa)


OTTAWA -- A convoy of trucks travelled through downtown Ottawa Sunday as a show of support for Indigenous peoples and to honour the 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops, B.C. residential school.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA s "CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent", organizer Roger Steepe said he wanted to do something.

"I heard about the Kamloops rally and how successful it was out there and it s something that I could do, too," he said.

"I didn t want to make today a political thing. I wanted today to be a humanitarian thing," he added. "We re all in it together. We re all one community, one person, one humanity. It doesn t matter if you re Indigenous or not, we ve got to support each other. Everybody wants the same thing in life: to be happy."

The convoy rolled out at around 9:30 a.m. from their staging site at Cavanaugh Construction in Ashton. The convoy made its way down Highway 417, up Kent Street in Ottawa, down Wellington Street in front of Parliament, and then along Elgin Street before making its way back to Highway 417 to end the rally.

The discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops residential school prompted an outpouring of grief and support across Canada. Residential school survivors and their supporters . Governments symbolically lowered flags to mark the deaths . Ontario Premier Doug Ford has pledged across the province.

In Kingston, Ont., the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada s first prime minister, was removed from its pedestal in a downtown park.

Macdonald played a key role in the development of the residential school system. About 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and forced to attend the schools. Canada s last residential school closed in 1996.

And while Steepe says Sunday s convoy in Ottawa is about honouring Indigenous peoples, he hopes the convoy does get the attention of decision makers in the federal government.

"I hope the politicians are listening and have less talk and more action now," he said. "It s been too long for any of this to be not noticed and not recognized. More action now and less talking about it."
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