We mourn the discovery of a mass grave of 215 children found at a former residential school in Kamloops British Columbia and the most recent discovery of an additional 751 children in unmarked graves near the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. We want to further acknowledge the findings of the 104 children found in Brandon, Manitoba, 38 children in Regina Saskatchewan, and 35 in Lestock, Saskatchewan. This is a stark reminder of the dark realities that Indigenous people endured in Canada’s attempts to assimilate the Indigenous people of the lands. The cultural genocide inflicted by Canada’s residential school system and the resulting intergenerational trauma experienced by residential school survivors and their families have left its mark to this day. The enactment of the ‘Indian Act’ and to ‘Kill [ ] the Indian in the Child’ declaration from John A Macdonald resulted in the horrific reality of innocent lives lost.
The first residential school opened in 1831 at the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario, and last one to close was Gordon Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan in 1996. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were separated from their families, and forced to attend these schools, where at least one in every 50 of these students died.
We must acknowledge what this country, we call Canada, has done to the Indigenous people and how will we grasp hold of this truth and act to ensure it never happens again and look to the Indigenous people as partners in healing and reconciliation.
Linda Dugas Iva McNair
Executive Director Board President