On May 27th, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the Kamloops (Tk’emlups) Residential School in British Columbia. This devastating discovery confirms the oral histories of elders and survivors and has resurfaced grief and trauma across Canada.
Under the residential school system, seven generations of Indigenous children were removed from their families and communities and confined in government-sponsored religious schools designed to educate the “Indian” out of them. The purpose of the schools was to eliminate all aspects of Indigenous culture and language by assimilating Indigenous children into a completely new and westernized way of life. In addition to experiencing physical, sexual, spiritual, and emotional abuse and inhumane living conditions, it’s estimated that thousands of children who attended these schools between 1831 and 1996 never returned home. At least five generations of Indigenous people continue to feel the impacts of intergenerational trauma.
At Sanctuary, our hearts are with the Secwépemc people, Indian Residential School Survivors, their families and communities, and all Indigenous people affected by this tragedy and Canada’s history of colonial violence and the residential school system. We see you, we hear you, and we are grieving alongside you.
We are immensely grateful for the Indigenous people who have chosen to work with us this past year. It’s an honour to share their stories, art, and this poem, written in response to the Kamloops tragedy, by Sanctuary Advisor Dr. Cheryl Bear, Nadleh Whu'ten First Nation.
For more resources visit sanctuarymentalhealth.org