The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Ukrainian Canadian community join the Secwépemc people, Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and their communities, the First Nations of Canada and all Canadians in mourning the memory of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The announcement of the confirmation of the mass grave was made by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir on May 27. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the home community of the Kamloops Indian Residential School which was the largest school in the Indian Affairs residential school system.
Many Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools never returned to their home communities. Some ran away and others died at the schools. The students who did not return have come to be known as the Missing Children. The Missing Children Project documents the deaths and the burial places of children who died while attending the schools. To date, more than 4,100 children who died while attending a residential school have been identified.
These innocent lives were taken as a result of a racist and discriminatory policy of removing Indigenous children from their homes and forcing them into Residential Schools. Many of us are parents. All of us are someone’s children. It is impossible to comprehend the pain and suffering that was endured by thousands of children, parents, and grandparents who had their families torn apart by the callousness and cruelty of this government policy.
The discovery of the grave of 215 children on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School is a stark reminder of this shameful era in Canadian history. It is a reminder of our collective responsibility, and the need for unity, understanding and empathy in addressing the horrible trauma suffered by the First Nations, Métis Nation, and Inuit communities of Canada.
On Monday May 31 we are encouraging our community and all those who can, to wear an orange shirt to join many expressing support of Residential School survivors and the humanitarian principle that every child matters.
May the Memory of the Victims Be Eternal. Вічная Пам’ять.
Supports and Resources
For those needing support at this time, the national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has also been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419
Resources for Parents and Children:
Project of Heart: https://projectofheart.ca/
Project of Heart” is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to:
- Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities
- Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
- Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively