CUPE 3908 Statement on Discovery of a Mass Grave at the Site of the Former Kamloops Residential School

EVERY CHILD MATTERS

We are heartbroken by the disturbing news that the remains of 215 children have been found buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.  We wish to express our love and support for Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, as well as with all Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.

Many are feeling pain in the last few days over this discovery, but it is necessary to remember that Indigenous communities have been dealing with this profound loss and trauma for generations.

The Indian residential school (IRS) system began in the 1870s and the last school closed in 1996.  The intent was always to assimilate Indigenous children into settler society.  It was meant to strip away their languages, culture, traditions, and ways of knowing.  The Canadian government operated Indian residential schools in partnership with the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, among others.

The IRS is not just a part of Canada’s history.  It remains part of the present through intergenerational trauma, and in the systemic racism present in social services and the criminal justice system which continues to separate families.

Every Canadian has a responsibility to educate themselves about this ongoing history by reading the summary report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Educators have a further role to play in moving towards reconciliation, particularly through decolonizing our syllabi and course materials and shifting the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples from the margins of our education system’s understanding of Canada, to its centre.

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866 925-4419

In solidarity,

CUPE 3908

References: 

REMEMBER 215

May 31, 2021

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