The following statement may be triggering to some: the content is about Residential School. If you are triggered please seek out your personal/local support systems, take care of you and/or speak to an Elder.For support you can also call the national Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 or go to ementalhealth.ca.
Dear parents and caregivers,
As many of you have heard, last week, theTk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation shared the tragic news that a mass grave of 215 children had been discovered at the former Kamloops Residential School. The violence, abuse and trauma that was systemic within the residential schools is well documented, and the discovery of this unmarked mass grave is only further evidence of the genocide that is a stark part of current Canadian history.
This is not a thing of the past. These unmarked graves were found last week – in the present. The last residential school closed in 1996 and the effects of schools have resulted in severe personal and intergenerational trauma still felt today. The separation of Indigenous children from their families continues through the child welfare/foster system where Indigenous children are hugely overrepresented. In 2018, Indigenous children represented 52.2% of those in the child welfare system but only accounted for 7.7% of the overall Canadian child population (Government of Canada, 2018). Further, there are more children in the child welfare system today in Canada than at the height of residential schools. The right to self-determination continues to be denied.
As the Hastings Anti-racism Committee (HARC), we acknowledge the long road that we have to go as a school community towards fully understanding the truth of Canada’s history, the racism that continues today and towards reconciliation with all Indigenous people. While we intend to listen well and follow the lead of Indigenous elders, leaders and communities, we can start by honouring the families of the 215 children, to those who were witness to the abuse and death at the Residential School and all residential schools, and to all those who were affected and continue to be affected by the legacy of colonial violence. Every child matters – Indigenous children must be celebrated, supported. We commit to taking ongoing action towards healing and towards the elimination of all forms of racism.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 calls to action, including 6 which directly relate to the residential school systems, missing children and burials, and demand a clear plan to tell families where their lost loved ones are buried and make sure cemeteries are well maintained. There are many more actions that are needed, and we will continue to amplify the calls for justice from Indigenous peoples — not just in moments like these, but always.
We know that Hastings Elementary has been engaged in some different activities to honour the 215 dead children found at the Kamloops Residential School, including groups of feathers coloured by the students, wearing orange, and discussions in class. We also want to encourage the parent community to take part in this week of honouring and acknowledging these children and all their relations, and we have included a few resources below for you to deepen your understanding and support your conversations.
• Join the calls for a National Day of Mourning
• Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
• Donate to the Urban Native Youth Assoc through Iron Dog Books
• Settlers Take Action – On Canada Project
Resources for adults:
• Overview of the Indian Residential School System
• Indigenous Children and the Child Welfare System in Canada
• Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
• The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Reports
• The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
• Residential School Survivors’ Stories
• BCIT – Indigenous Awareness
Resources for children:
• When I was Eight – Authors: Christy Jordan- Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
• When We Were Alone – Author: David A. Robertson
• Not My Girl – Authors: Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
• Stolen Words – Author: Melanie Florence
Government of Canada. (2018, November 30). Government of Canada, with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation leaders, announce co-developed legislation will be introduced on Indigenous child and family services in early 2019 [News release]. https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/news/2018/11/government-of-canada-with-first-nations-inuit-and-metis-nation-leaders-announce-co-developed-legislation-will-be-introduced-on-indigenous-child-and.html