We are deeply grieved by the news of the 215 children who were found buried in a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. As an organization that advocates for the rights and well-being of every child in Canada, we mourn the loss of these 215 Indigenous children and the many more yet uncounted, and we honour the survivors and their families.
We express our deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc community and all the West Coast First Nations. There are no words that can adequately express the pain and trauma that this discovery has caused Indigenous communities. There are no words that can atone for the physical, spiritual, sexual and emotional abuse that First Nations, Métis and Inuit children suffered at more than 130 residential schools in Canada from the 1800s up until the 1990s. They were stolen from their families and robbed of their childhood and their future.
These wounds are intergenerational. The crimes of the past cannot be separated from the injustices of the present. First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, families and communities bear the scars of the atrocities committed against them over centuries. Indigenous peoples continue to face grave inequities in their access to education, health and social services that keep them from reaching their full potential.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued its report and Calls to Action in 2015, yet they remain largely unfulfilled. We own our responsibility in taking action, and we call on all levels of government, religious leaders and institutions, schools and universities, the public and private sectors, and individual citizens to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation by implementing all 94 Calls to Action.
No child is too young to learn about and engage in acts of reconciliation. We urge Canadians to educate and engage children and youth in seeking redress and bringing about justice.
As a country, we have 215 more reasons to renew our ongoing commitment to walk the path of reconciliation. This is a journey we must take together.
Click here for a child- and youth-friendly version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action created by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
If you need support call 1-866-925-4419. The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience.