Statement on the Kamloops residential school burial site
June 3, 2021
A National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors. This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at: 1-866-925-4419. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066 or on their website at https://www.irsss.ca/
Content Warning: residential schools, settler-colonial violence, anti-Indigenous racism
We stand with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and all Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, in mourning the loss of 215 children, their remains found on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
This discovery is horrendous and tragic. Sadly, it is not singular nor insular. The Missing Children Project of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is a systematic effort to record and analyze the deaths, as well as the presence and condition of cemeteries for the children. The findings of the report are “in keeping with statements that former students and the parents of former students gave to the Commission. They spoke of children who went to school and never returned. The tragedy of the loss of children was compounded by the fact that burial places were distant or even unknown.”
Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action 71-76 calls on the government to act to address missing children and burial information. We echo the TRC’s calls to the federal government to:
- make documents public
- develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register as well as an online registry of residential school cemeteries
- develop and implement strategies and procedures for the identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries.
We encourage you to read all 94 Calls to Action here.
An analysis by the Yellowhead Institute showed that as of December 2020, only 8 of the 94 Calls to Action had been completed. Since then, no additional TRC Calls to Action have been completed. For regular status updates on TRC Calls to Action, consult Indigenous Watchdog. You can hold the federal government accountable by writing to your MP, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett.
Learn how libraries and educational institutions can implement the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, particularly as they relate to education, language, and culture:
- Indigenous Matters – Information Brief 2019 – prepared by members of the Ontario Library Association Indigenous Advisory Council
- CFLA-FCAB – Library Response to Truth and Reconciliation
- CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report
“In order for that [Reconciliation] to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” (p. 7 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report)
We recognize that institutions such as libraries and schools have a role in reconciliation, information sharing, and learning. We know that in all of our institutions, colonialism and racism continue to be perpetuated through lack of action, silence and ignorance. It is crucial that as guests on Turtle Island, we be active in changing behaviours, dismantling the effects of this system, and prioritizing reconciliation within ourselves, our organizations, institutions, and communities.
Prepared by the OLA Indigenous Advisory Committee, OLA Board & Staff