On behalf of Indian Residential School Survivors and their descendants, we join hearts with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to mourn the deaths of the 215 Indigenous children discovered this past week at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This discovery is one that affects all of us, resurfacing generations of trauma that is felt in waves throughout our community. We must hold each other up and look to our culture to help us through this difficult time.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School and St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in North Vancouver were just two institutions where thousands of Squamish, Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and other Indigenous children were forced to attend. These children would have been Elders and members of our communities today, and we must honour them by joining forces to urgently call for Action 75 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to identify all cemeteries, residential school sites, and unmarked graves at which Indigenous children have been buried.
Just 10 out of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have so far been completed. We as a Nation reaffirm our commitment to the remaining Calls and we urge the federal government, all institutions, First Nations leaders, and people of Canada to demand the implementation and completion of this work. What the world has learned this past week from Kamloops is a moment for country-wide reflection, but also an action to urgently repair the intergenerational harm done to our peoples.
For all of those affected by this discovery, a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support (1-866-925-4419). In B.C., a toll-free First Nations and Indigenous Crisis Line (1-800-588-8717) is offered through the KUU-US Crisis Line Society. Both Crisis Lines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.