KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – We are waiting to learn more about the unmarked burial site of more than 200 children at at a former residential school in Kamloops, as the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc gets set to provide an update Friday.
This comes a week after the First Nation announced the discovery of remains at the school, sending a wave of grief and anger over the country.
The discovery has had many Canadians asking more about that dark chapter of this country’s history and what they can do to help face and address it.
The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc says there has been an outpouring of support for the community and they have put out a list of concrete ways to help.
Suggestions include, first and foremost, respecting the Fist Nation’s cultural protocols and lead in the caretaking of the lost loved ones.
If you’re not aware of the of the real history of residential schools, review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and Calls to Action, the Nation adds, noting that in doing so, you are upholding the heavy lifting already done by the survivors, intergenerational survivors, and the commission.
Suggestion from the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc for non-Indigenous people “…now is not the time to ask questions but to simply offer a kind ear to your Indigenous friends.” https://t.co/scD5KFDf1D
— Mike Lloyd (@llikemoyd) June 4, 2021
For non-Indigenous people, the Nation suggests, “now is not the time to ask questions but to simply offer a kind ear to your Indigenous friends. This situation has opened a wound for so many. Be an active listener.”
Donations are also being accepted, with funds going toward work to further investigate and later memorialize the children, the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc says.
Donations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheques can be made out to Tk’emlups te Secwépemc and mailed to 200-330 Chief Alex Thomas Way, Kamloops, BC V2H 1H1
The Nation is also asking those with expertise who may be able to help, as well as others who may have information about the children who were buried, to get in touch.
The remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the site of the former residential school in May with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist.
Indigenous communities say they have long suspected the remains were there, however, their beliefs had not been confirmed until now. This has renewed calls across the country for other residential school sites to also be searched for the remains of loved ones who were taken from their families.
The federal government has promised to provide funding to communities for such searches. There have been apologies, but an apology from the Pope — which is one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — remains to be seen.
The residential school system saw 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children taken from their families and confined in conditions that constituted cultural genocide.
The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates between 4,100 to 6,000 children died of abuse or neglect between 1890 and 1996. However, Indigenous people, survivors, and experts have maintained that this number is a significant underestimation.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available for anyone affected by residential schools. You can call 1-866-925-4419 24 hours a day to access emotional support and services.