Flags at city-owned properties in Kelowna are at half-mast today in solidarity after the discovery of the remains of 215 children on grounds of a former Kamloops residential school.
“All we can do right now is express is our deepest condolences to the generations of families who continue to live with their own grief wrought by the residential school system – and now the confirmation that innocent, helpless children were doomed by that nightmarish system,” said Mayor Colin Basran in a statement issued Saturday.
Indigenous children from many Interior B.C. communities were sent to the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the largest school in the country’s Indian Affairs residential school system, where the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery last Thursday (May 27). Chief Rosanne Casimir called it an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about, but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” Casimir said. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.”
The RCMP is working with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community leaders in determining the next steps and the best way to be involved, while at the same time being supportive, respectful and culturally sensitive to the Indigenous communities that are impacted.
“The misery of this discovery also re-emphasizes our nation’s need to follow through on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples across Canada,” said Basran. “We have taken some steps locally on this journey, and we are committed to continuing that process.”
“These gestures of remorse and support for Indigenous peoples are important and necessary today, but long-term healing and reconciliation must be a focus for all of us in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.”
– With files from Kamloops This Week
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