Indigenous people and allies gathered for an Every Child Matters Vigil on Thursday near the water at Alki Beach. 

Over the past two months, the remains of 215 children were found in British Columbia near the former Kamloops Residential School which closed in 1978, and 751 more unmarked graves were uncovered in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan near the former Marieval Residential School. These discoveries led many Indigenous communities to protest Canada Day, which is recognized on July 1. Memorials and vigils were held across the U.S. and Canada for people to mourn the losses together.

Crissy Archambault, 35, of North Dakota held her son, Ayden, 4, while listening to Indigenous women sing a healing song in the setting sun. Archambault came to Seattle to visit family and said after hearing about the vigil she had to come to “support the community.” 

Longtime friends Tamara Vining, 67, and Alma G., 70, of the Tepehuán community embraced during the vigil. “I expect they will find more of these graves to be found here (in the U.S.)” Alma said. “There’s so much intergenerational trauma that’s being passed down.”

Social-justice activist and organizer Roxanne White, a Nez Perce tribal member, passed around a microphone to allow people in the crowd to share their thoughts. White encouraged people to continue holding onto their community and culture during this time of loss. 

Community organizer Ixtli Salinas-Whitehawk, 45, lit candles at an altar as dozens of luminaries were placed near the beach, orange carnations were set adrift in the water and lanterns floated into the night sky in remembrance of the children.