The thought of losing her children and never knowing what happened to them is unimaginable for Harwinder Sandhu.
The Vernon-Monashee MLA acknowledged the discovery of 215 children’s remains at the Kamloops Residential School, followed by 751 in Saskatchewan and the likelihood of more.
“Being a mother, it really deeply touches me,” Sandhu said in a press conference on June 25. “So many children were forever taken from their families.”
Sadly, she said, racism still exists today.
“It’s still happening. It’s sad,” Sandhu said, urging everyone to take these discoveries as a chance to reflect and change our behaviours.
As Canada Day approaches and Victoria has halted celebrations, her hometown riding of Vernon is continuing with some events. But, she says, July 1 is a time for everyone to take a moment to pay respect and acknowledge our history.
“This Canada Day it is important to acknowledge the wrongs,” said Sandhu, who had a conversation with her own daughters, asking how they can reflect. “Rather than shoving this under the carpet, the meaningful dialogue is important in order for Indigenous Peoples to heal.
“Think about the discovery of bodies. I think I read somewhere there are 1,525 as of today and there are more. They’re not just bodies or numbers. Each child was somebody’s child.”
As a community, province and country, we can reflect, she said.
“As a provincial government or as individuals we should all be supportive and accountable.”
It is also a time to acknowledge all those who have been lost from the opioid crisis and COVID-19, she said.
“We need to also thank our frontline workers and all our service workers.”
She urges everyone with plans to gather to do so safely. And with temperatures scorching the region, to make sure everyone is OK.
“Given the heat wave as well, check on your neighbours.”