On the Discovery of 215 Indigenous Children’s Unmarked Graves on the Grounds of the Former Kamloops Indian Residential School…
Image: Design by K’omoks/Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation artist Andy Everson for the Orange Shirt Society
Content warning: this posting references colonial violence, cultural genocide, and Canada’s residential schools. Support for survivors and their families is available. Call the Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 or 1-866-925-4419 for the 24-7 crisis line. The KUU-US Crisis Line Society also offers 24-7 support at 250-723-4050 for adults, 250-723-2040 for youth, or toll-free at 1-800-588-8717.
In shock and grief, we stand in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all residential school survivors, their families, and their communities. As settlers it is our responsibility to confront past and ongoing colonial violence and our complicity in it.
The residential schools may have ended, but this racist legacy also continues on in the child and family “care” systems in place all across Canada, which continue to this day to take Indigenous children away from their families. To learn more, read articles by and follow Cindy Blackstock. She is a member of the Gitxsan First Nation, a Professor at McGill, and Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Their website has a great collection of information, including on how the Canadian government continues to fail to act on rulings made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) to end racially discriminating against 165,000 First Nations children and their families. Check out their information sheets, particularly the latest — Honouring Those Lost and the Survivors of Residential Schools for our Future Generations — relating to the recent discovery of unmarked burials of children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School run by the Catholic Church. This latest info sheet also gives a good synopsis of how the Trudeau government is spending our tax dollars “to pay for lawyers to litigate against survivors of IRSS, including those survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the friends and fellow schoolmates of the 215 children whose remains were found. Canada is simultaneously trying to overturn a decision made by two expert members of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, aiming to ensure equality for 165,000 First Nations children, some of whom are the children and grand-children of the survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
Join the Caring Society and the Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition on Friday June 11, 2021, 12 pm -1:30 pm EDT for their free information session live on facebook. Tell Canada why you think it must stop litigating against survivors of the IRSS and First Nations children. Share your reasons on social media using the hashtag #NotInMyName and ask your families and friends to do the same.
We wish to amplify some of the other many good actions and resources folks have been sharing in these past days:
- “Non-Indigenous people — here’s what you can do, right now” – “seven ways that non-Indigenous allies can support healing for Indigenous people in the wake of this tragedy… This article is a collaboration between The Discourse and IndigiNews. It seeks to amplify calls to action from Indigenous people and communities that have been shared in recent days. We’ve drawn heavily from this list of actions shared by the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s 94 calls to action, and conversations between IndigiNews reporters and Indigenous leaders at the forefront of this work.” – IndigiNews.
- Read about the history and continued impacts of residential schools in Canada, a painful, but essential, learning for non-Indigenous people.
- Watch this lecture by Tamara Starblanket, Dean of Academics at the Native Education College and author of Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations, and the Canadian State.
- If you haven’t already, read the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and consider where you can take action in your own life and work.
- Donate to the Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society, which is offering support to survivors, families and Indigenous communities at 1 (800) 721-0066, and/or the KUU-US Crisis Line Society, and other organizations that support survivors.
- Take a virtual trip and experience BC Indigenous culture through free online workshops offered by Indigenous Tourism BC.
- Join Full Circle’s Talking Stick Festival for their Summer Sojourn, featuring online events and gatherings through the month of June to celebrate the enduring spirit of Indigenous people with dance and song and words.
- Read books by Indigenous writers – The Indigenous-owned bookstore Massy Books has a fantastic list of Indigenous books posted for Indigenous History Month. For 2 great recent examples, the recent winners of the Governor General’s Literary Award, both from BC: Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story by Kim Senklip Harvey; and Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. SFU’s FCAT has another list of books, films, podcasts and more.