A tragic reminder of how much work we have to do

(amiskwacîwâskahikan) I was dismayed to hear about the findings of a mass grave at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC. The tragic history of residential schools continues to remind us how far we have to go to achieve reconciliation in our country.

These children were someone’s daughter, son or grandchild who never came home. This is devastating, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who are traumatized anew with this discovery.

The Indian Residential School system has impacted the wellbeing of Indigenous People and their Nations across this country. Their healing from this traumatic experience is intergenerational. Indeed they have impacted our entire country in ways we do not yet realize.

The children were innocent and were loved by their families. They were stolen and they were deprived of a dignified life, and their deaths were fully unnecessary and tragic. We must do everything we can to help these families grieve. We must support them in whatever way we can. We must continue to seek answers for all of the families who still need those answers.

I am committing personally to do what I can to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls for action. There is so much more we must do to atone for this shameful part of our national history. 

I would like to extend my support to the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations in their call to locate the many undiscovered graves in our territory. 

“These schools existed here in Alberta, where mass graves and unmarked graves have been located. We call upon provincial and federal governments to immediately implement an action plan with Treaty First Nations, to locate graves so that proper cultural protocols are made to honour and remember our deceased children and people.”

TRC Calls to Action 77 and 82 are important opportunities for Municipal Leaders to provide support and show leadership.

My deepest sympathies goes out to the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc First Nation and all affected by this tragedy and to everyone who is grieving today.

We must grieve with you, listen carefully to you, learn together, and stay committed to reconciliation.

 

Michael Oshry