The UCV Board of Trustees would like to express our deep sorrow for the 215 children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. We grieve for these children and their families. But we must not look away from this horror. Let us examine our troubled history, and ourselves, and bear witness to the history and lived experience of residential school survivors and their families. Let us look the facts in the face and transform through intentional action, on a personal and societal level, this white colonial empire that is still doing great harm. And let us Unitarians acknowledge that we have an opportunity within our midst to intentionally and accountably commit to dismantling racism within our congregations and within the UU movement by adopting the proposed 8th Principle.
These children were removed from their families by the federal government and forced to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These children died while under the ‘care’ of the federal government and school staff. We know, as the Truth and Reconciliation Report released in 2015 has confirmed, that residential schools were “a systemic government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples.” We know that thousands of residential school survivors have confirmed experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of school staff. We know the sad truth that these 215 children are just a small portion of the thousands who were murdered by the residential school system.
If you are looking for next steps in this moment, here are some of the resources that Indigenous groups and individuals have generously shared over the last few days. A vigil will be held, Remember the Children, Wednesday June 2 at 6 pm at Grandview Park (1657 Charles Street, Vancouver).
Resources and services for Indigenous folks:
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society Counselling Services
- Survivors crisis line is open 24 hours a day & 7 days a week: 1800-721-0066
If you’re a settler, here are some places where you can make a donation to support residential school survivors and their families:
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Legacy of Hope Foundation
- Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence campaign
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
- Reconciliation Canada
- Native Women’s Association of Canada
- Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund
If you’re a settler, here are some educational resources on residential schools:
- Settlers Take Action resources compiled by the On Canada Project
- Read about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its 94 Calls to Action.
- Yellowhead Institute – Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
- Find out whose traditional territory you live on. Visit the Native Land website.
- Sign up for Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
Image by Mike Labrum via Unsplash.com