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Indigenous artist creates massive mural at Ikea in Coquitlam to commemorate 215 children

Coquitlam businesses share their concern about the discovery of 215 unmarked children’s graves in Kamloops.

Murals, signs and Instagram posts are some of the ways that Tri-City businesses are showing solidarity with Indigenous people following the discovery of 215 unmarked children’s graves in Kamloops.

And the Ikea store in Coquitlam has acted quickly to create a catalyst for awareness and conversation.

This week, Ikea unveiled a commemorative mural acknowledging the 215 residential school children whose remains were discovered via ground penetrating radar at a former Kamloops residential school.

In a statement, Ikea said the mural currently installed was originally going to be a showcase of art by Indigenous artist and lawyer Shain Jackson; however, following the recent discovery in Kamloops, Jackson pivoted from his own Coast Salish art showcase to a memorial.

“In our collective sorrow for the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation community and all Indigenous Peoples in Canada during this unimaginable time, we worked with Shain to create a wall honouring the 215 Indigenous children who died, as well as the survivors of the Indian Residential School System and their families,” the company said.

“This memorial also serves as a catalyst for awareness and conversation. Although we appreciate that the subject matter may be difficult for some, it is only through dialogue that a greater understanding will be reached, and justice served.”

Meanwhile, another Coquitlam business owner is sharing his concerns about the residential school system and the recent discovery with signage at his restaurant.

Fred Soofi, owner of Pasta Polo, put up the sign shortly after the tragic discovery in Kamloops was shared with the public.

“Every child matters because they are our present, our future, our culture, our wealth. They are an integral part of a strong community, and for strong business a strong community is essential,” said Soofi about the sign in reference to the residential school system and its impact on the Indigenous community.

Local businesses join schools, city halls, politicians in community members across the Tri-Cities who have posted tributes or created memorials to the 215 residential school survivors.

Vancity, meanwhile, has been active on social media to raise awareness about the issue.