Please note some readers may find the content distressing.
On May 28, 2021 Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation shared preliminary findings of 215 buried children, as young as three years old, identified and found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
This is only one residential school out of 139 Indian Residential Schools located within Canada. These residential schools were established to support assimilation of Indigenous peoples as early as the 1880’s, with the last Residential School closing in 1996 in Saskatchewan. Over 150,000 children were placed within this system. Children were stripped from their homes, name, culture, language and they lost more than just their identity—They were also robbed of their childhood. Many children were never returned to their families. If a child made it through the residential school system, it was the start of intergenerational trauma that has deep roots within all communities today.
Members of Indigenous background and non-Indigenous communities still suffer from the trauma – teachers, health care workers, support teams, finance departments, and most importantly the next seven generations – so many people still hurt in this present day and age. This is an important time to reflect on how it is still impacting so many lives, ask what we can do to support and provide a safe space for anyone who is suffering. Be there, reach out to your community, ask how they are doing and most importantly, just listen. Listen closely to what your community has to share. This is an important time where neighbouring communities need us to reach out and provide a shoulder to share what everyone is feeling.
The Indigenous Inclusion Committee within YPAC wants to acknowledge and remember the many who were not returned or could not return and provide support to those who were and still are impacted by the residential school systems. Thank you to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation for sharing this difficult truth and opening this path to long-term healing. We see you, we hear you, we want to support you and your loved ones.
Here are some additional resources that are available:
Indian Residential School Survivors Society support services by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call 1-800-721-0066.
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419
Some ways to get involved:
Wear an orange shirt – symbolizes Every Child Matters
Flags to be lowered across Canada
Learn more about Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action
Make a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society