As a learning community, we are deeply saddened to learn about the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The tragic news is heartbreaking and devastating.
The impact of this news is far reaching and complex. Today we think about the children, their families and the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities they came from. We think about residential school survivors and their families. We realize the history of residential schools is not over. Finding out the truth about what happened at residential schools is ongoing.
The Sechelt residential school and the Kamloops residential school have very similar histories, both run by the same Catholic order – both with confirmation of abuse and survivors of traumatic experiences; both with stories of children passing away while at the schools – including stories of unmarked graves. There were Secwépemc children at the Sechelt school; shishalh children at the Kamloops school.
People across Canada are finding ways to acknowledge this sad news and the impact it has on Indigenous Peoples – and the whole country. Today at 2:15 pm, along with many others in our community, we are going to stand for one minute of silence to honour those children who attended the residential school in Kamloops, their families, and communities.
At the end of September each year, we wear orange to show we care about the Indigenous children who attended residential schools across Canada. In acknowledgement and honour of the children lost, many SD46 staff will be wearing orange today and throughout the week.
To honour those who suffered trauma and harm at the former residential school in Kamloops, and their families and communities who are mourning, all our school and district sites will be lowering the Canadian flag to half-mast until further notice, as a sign of respect.
This recent news—news that comes as a shock, but does not come as a surprise to Indigenous peoples who have lived through the residential school experience–underscores the work we must all be willing to do to understand and appreciate the full, authentic history of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples. The SD46 Indigenous Education team and the district counselling team will continue to guide the school district in this important work. The team has created age-appropriate resources and supports for teachers and staff to support them as they have thoughtful and sensitive conversations with each other and in the classroom about this tragic event and the history of the residential school system.
Should you find it helpful, we offer a gentle reminder that you can access confidential support.
- Indian Residential Schools Survivor Society 24 Hour Crisis Line – 1-866-925-4419
- Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society Resolution Health Support Program 1-877-477-0775 (Support services for former Residential School students and their families)
- First Nations Health Authority – Virtual Counselling and Health Services 1-855-344-3800 (www.FNHA.ca/VirtualHealth)
For more resources, please also go to the Reconciliation Canada website:
Our hearts go out to the families of the children and to all communities closely impacted. We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on this recent discovery and to support one another. May we continue on this journey of truth and reconciliation together and go forward with courage.