A Vancouver Island First Nation tribal council is sending condolences and issuing a call to action after the remains of 215 children were found at a residential school in Kamloops.
The bodies were located near the Kamloops Residential School earlier this month using ground-penetrating radar, with the discovery being made public by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation on Thursday.
The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council issued an emotional news release upon learning of the discovery, which it says sent “shock waves” around the world.
“These children never had the opportunity to return home and live a life they deeply deserved, nor were they respected with a proper burial with their loved ones present to grieve their loss,” the council wrote.
The council reflected on the children taken from their families and loved ones and put in residential schools like the one in Kamloops, including members of its own tribe.
“It is important that light has been shed on this tragic truth that many have known for so long, that numerous of our loved ones never returned home from residential school,” said council president Judith Sayers. “The reality is that the federal and religious
institutions may have wanted to silence these innocent children and forget about them, but these children can be silenced no longer.”
Vice-President Mariah Charleson said her heart went out to every Indigenous person impacted by these schools, and that the grim discovery is a reminder to all survivors of the truth they’re forced to live with daily.
“Though Canada’s mandate to assimilate us all failed, the legacy is still alive in each of us. Let’s commit to healing; I believe our land and teachings as Nuu-chah-nulth-aht will be instrumental in this,” she said.
The tribal council is joining a call for governments and churches to support Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation financially, emotional, spiritually and with education.
It also demanded that the federal government and Catholic and other churches involved with residential schools be held accountable.
“They must worth with First Nations to discover the truth around other residential schools using ground-penetrating radar to find any other burial sites. We cannot rest until this is done,” the council wrote.
The First Nations Health Authority is providing mental health and trauma support to community members during this difficult time.
Additional support services can be found below.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Website – http://www.trc.ca/index.html
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society – 24 Hour Crisis Line (1-800-721-0066)
- KUU-US Crisis Line Society – 24 Hour Crisis Line (British Columbia) (1-800-588-8717)
- National Indian Residential School Crisis Line (1-800-925-4419)
- Métis Nation BC – Mental Health Services
- First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health Benefit