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Former students of St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay, B.C., gather to witness the symbolic demolition of the decrepit building, sharing songs, embraces and tears – and hurling rocks at it – as part of their ‘healing journey.’ The Globe and Mail photographer John Lehmann witnessed the emotional and spiritual event.

Residential school survivors of St. Michael's Residential School in Alert Bay hug after a symbolic decommission and demolition of the former residential school.

Beau Dick is pictured on the front steps of the St. Michael's Residential School.

Survivor Josie Hanuse (black hat) is over come with emotion during a symbolic decommission and demolition of the former residential school.

Josie Hanuse brought the same same suit case she carried into St. Michael's Residential School for the first time at the age of five in 1967.

St. Michael's Residential School survivors Gladys Tom-Osawamick (L) and Lillian West.

A crowd of survivors and supporters outside the St. Michael's Residential School.

Survivor Terry Dawson throws a rock at St. Michael's Residential School.

Beau Dick conducts a ceremonial first nation prayer and dance in front of the St. Michael's Residential School.

A member of the crowd takes a cell phone photo while a backhoe demolishes part of the St. Michael's Residential School.

Graffiti is pictured on the wall of St. Michael's Residential School.

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