BARRIE, ONT. -- More than 200 pairs of children's shoes were placed on the steps of the spirit catcher in Barrie Sunday afternoon.

The memorial is to honour the 215 children whose remains were discovered at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The graves of children, some as young as three, were found recently after a preliminary survey of the lands was ordered. A B.C. chief called the discovery a horrifying reminder of the abuses against Indigenous people in Canada.

"It is painful, we are grieving, and it is a sense of loss today, and that is why we are here in downtown Barrie," said Gary Johnson, a Barrie resident.

The memorial in Barrie was organized by local community members who say each pair of shoes symbolized a life lost.

"I'm a parent myself, and when I think of 215 children, that's a lot of lives that are lost, and it hurts, that pain doesn't go away," said Johnson.

Organizers encourage others to drop off shoes to honour all those who suffered while living at residential school.

With files from CTV News Vancouver