Trigger warning: Residential schools. Please read with care.
Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge of the devastating news of 215 children discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. This enormous loss is felt around the world. We extend our deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation community and affected families, and all survivors of the residential school system.
As settlers who continue to occupy space on unceded lands, we recommit our organization to this work and to seek out our nation’s dark and painful “history” in order to dismantle ongoing acts of colonialism and genocide of the Indigenous culture and its people. We grieve this tremendous loss and we remain open to take direction from survivors on how we can support them moving forward.
For those in need of support:
- The National Indian Residential School Survivor Support Line provides support for former students, families, and all those who continue to feel the effects of this tragedy today. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
- Within B.C., the KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a First Nations and Indigenous-specific crisis line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s toll-free and can be reached at 1-800-588-8717 or online at kuu-uscrisisline.com.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society offers a crisis line for grief, crisis, and trauma counseling at 1-800-721-0066. Donations can be made to support survivors at www.irsss.ca.
For those in need of knowledge:
- Read or re-read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the 94 calls to action.
- Support Indigenous peoples’ calls for the Canadian government and churches to fund a full investigation into children who went missing or died at residential schools. This is one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
- Read the National Student Memorial Register, which was created to remember and honour the children who never returned home from residential schools.
- Educate yourself on the lands in which you live, work, and play, and the people who your land belongs to at www.native-land.ca.
- Canadian Shame: a History of Residential Schools by Ginger Gossnel-Myers from TEDx Vancouver
- Decolonization Toolkit from VIDEA, designed to spark conversation and growth personally, professionally, organizationally, or community-wide.
Responses around the world:
- The Brandon Residential School Cemeteries Project aims to reveal the names and reclaim the identities of the 215 children.
- Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, describes the effect the discovery in Kamloops has had on his community, and what Canadians should do next on the path to healing in an interview.
- Dennis Saddleman performs his poem, Monster, about the residential school he was forced to attend as a child.
- Yukon beading project honours the 215 through a healing practice in beading work.
- First Nations Artists processing their grief through their work and art.
- Schools across North Vancouver lined up 215 empty chairs to represent the 215 young lives discovered in Kamloops.
- UBC Students and staff applied 215 handprints to the cairn at the University of British Columbia.
- Residential school survivors tied hundreds of orange ribbons outside a Catholic church in downtown Winnipeg.
- Saddened by the news, a North Bay resident etched 215 hearts on the sidewalk as a means to honour the children whose remains were found.