Statement on discovery of a mass grave by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

This post contains details some readers may find distressing. A 24-hour Indian Residential School Survivors Society Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

In May 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation discovered the bodies of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school building in Kamloops, British Columbia.

We extend our deepest condolences and solidarity to survivors and communities impacted by the discovery.

This confirms what community survivors have known for decades: that these children, and countless others, never returned home after being stolen to attend one of the over 130 residential schools that were built across Canada.

These children lost everything—family, community, language, culture, personal safety and well-being, opportunities for happiness and even life itself; eliminated through violence and emotional and sexual abuse.

While residential schools may be historical, the resulting intergenerational trauma continues to be an ongoing lived reality for many. It is unacceptable for settlers to simply mourn. We must acknowledge the systemic racism that continues to harm Indigenous families, educate ourselves, and take action.

The journey to actively participate in reconciliation will be painful and calls for deep, meaningful and lasting change. Here are a few suggestions for non-Indigenous folks on how to start:

The 'Every Child Matters' graphic on this page was designed by Andy Everson, a Northwest Coast artist from Comox BC who specializes in contemporary and traditional limited edition First Nations prints. Visit his website.