This week, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir shared the heavy announcement that the bodies of 215 children were found on the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These were students, whose well-being had been entrusted to the care of the Indian Residential School system. Kukpi7 Casimir, via Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, captures well the complex emotions of this announcement:
And we should be sad; it is horrific. But it is not shocking. In fact, it is the opposite – a too-common unearthing of the legacy, and enduring reality, of colonialism in Canada. To the degree it is shocking, it is evidence of how much learning there is still to do.
Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, the chief of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, said it best: She called the discovery of the mass grave an “unthinkable loss.” But as she importantly made clear, it was also a known loss – that is, the deaths were undocumented, but the community “had knowledge” of them.
Cindy Blackstock has been sharing numerous resources to learn more. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, of which Blackstock is executive director, has more information on the Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams campaign, which encourages you to plant a heart garden to honour those lost to Canada’s residential school policy. Also, via Tanya Talaga, a thread on current conditions in First Nations schools.
I’ll be taking some time to revisit Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers and All Our Relations, both of which deal with the long lasting legacy of residential schools. You can listen to the latter as the 2018 Massey Lectures.
All the best for the week ahead—whatever you can muster, we try our best, despite the gloom that sometimes seems so persistent for those with caring hearts.