The discovery of the 215 children who were never able to return to their families after being forced to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, is heartbreaking.
We know that their deaths weigh heavily on their families, and communities have been forever changed by this loss. By listening to the voices of Indigenous people, we also know that this is still the beginning of uncovering the full impact of the residential schools.
The fact that more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in one of the 130 residential schools that operated across the country—with the last one only closing in 1996—was not something that many of us were taught in schools.
While this recent discovery is a confirmation of what Indigenous communities and families knew all along, it is a moment of learning for many people across the country.
The tragedy of Canada’s colonial past and the systematic abuse that was inflicted on the first inhabitants of Turtle Island continues to reverberate throughout the country today.
We all need to play a role in Truth and Reconciliation and taking the time to learn, listen, and share with your loved ones will make a difference. It can be difficult to know how to move forward, but as people who desire to live a life of compassion, we know that taking action is important.
Renée McGurry, current LiveDifferent board member and Earth Lodge Development Keeper for the Government of First Nations Treaty 2 Territory, recently shared a resource created by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society that helps explain the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 Calls to Action. It serves as an age-appropriate introduction for youth and creates an easy way for everybody to learn. You can find that resource here.
Empathy is key to understanding, and there is a website where you can learn about the traditional territory where you live, work, and play. Through this resource, you will be able to acknowledge the different Nations whose land you inhabit, and by clicking their names, you can learn more about their history and the current issues that they are facing today.
While we will never be able to understand the pain that communities are experiencing, we are committed to learning, listening, and amplifying Indigenous voices.
Support is available for residential school survivors, family members, and Indigenous youth, or for those who have been affected by the recent news. To access emotional and crisis referral services, call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line for 24/7 support at 1-866-925-4419.