Walking a path of hope and sorrow at Beechwood Cemetery

Under the skylight of the domed Sacred Space building on the grounds of Beechwood Cemetery, a group of Indigenous young people is meticulously arranging thousands of tiny tiles across the floor. 

Each tile, a fraction larger than a Scrabble piece, has been individually hand-painted by school children or youth groups from across Canada. They've been decorated with colourful symbols of hope and sorrow — and plenty of hearts.

The tiles, the result of Project of Heart, have been created for the children who survived the horrors of Canada's residential school system, and also those who never made it home.  

Volunteers from the Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G), an Indigenous youth collective, are organizing the tiles into a giant labyrinth for visitors to wander through on Thursday, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, while contemplating the legacy of the schools.

"It feels really good that these children obviously have a great sense of the horror that unfolded," said volunteer Amy Ede, sitting on the floor and surveying the array of tiny artworks.

"And also it's beautiful, too, to send those wishes for peace as well to the world. We need a space for both."