The circular piece of art has braids on the outside and imagery from different Indigenous cultures on the inside, a collaboration between five artists from different parts of Canada.
Once cast in bronze, they will be placed at or near 139 sites of former residential schools.
"It's very much part of healing to us, to all of us who had experiences in residential schools," said Ovilu Goo-Doyle, one of 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children taken from their families and forced into residential schools.
Consultation with elders, survivors, National Gallery
The National Commemorative Marker Project is being led by the Assembly of First Nations and Aboriginal Healing Foundation, with funding from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The Commission's chairman said a national memory of what First Nations people endured as a result of residential schools is necessary to help us heal as a country and to help future generations understand.
"We will never move on. This country will never move on. This is Canada's Holocaust," said Justice Murray Sinclair.
Before designing and developing the markers, the artists spent a week consulting with residential school survivors, as well as elders, advisers and representatives from Carleton and Concordia universities.
The artists also met with representatives from the National Gallery of Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
The residential school system was put in place by the federal government in the 1800s, with the last school closing in 1996.