Recognition of the Missing Children of the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Recognition of the Missing Children of the Kamloops Indian Residential School

The following is a note our President & CEO, Jim Gilliland, sent out to the staff at Leith Wheeler today. We thought to share his comments here in the case that readers may benefit from the resources included at the bottom. Whether you are looking to educate yourself or find supports in dealing with the news of this tragedy, we hope the links are helpful to you.

I am writing today about the heart wrenching news that the remains of 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Our thoughts are with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, and all Indigenous Canadians, as they grapple with profound loss and immense grief.

It’s hard to know what to do when confronted with such shameful history. Within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report, Action #92 emphasized the need for corporations to provide education for managers and staff on the history of Indigenous peoples and skill-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism. This is an area which we will continue to develop over the months and years ahead.

To that end, I wanted to start by emphasizing that further discoveries of this kind are sadly likely. The TRC dedicated an entire volume of its final report to the issue of missing children and unmarked burials. The TRC was able to identify 3,201 deaths of children at residential schools at the time it issued its report, though the true number is expected to be much higher. It found that for just under one third of these deaths (32%), the government and the schools did not record the name of the student who died; for just under one quarter of these deaths (23%), the government and the schools did not record the gender of the student who died; for just under one-half of these deaths (49%), the government and schools did not record the cause of death. As late as the period from 1941-1945, the Named and Unnamed combined death rate for children at residential schools is almost 5 times higher than the general death rate of Canadian schoolchildren.

In the TRC report, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada referenced his quote to the Canadian Senate Standing Committee: “The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek. There are no shortcuts. When it comes to truth and reconciliation, we are all forced to go the distance.”

In that spirit, the management committee wanted to provide the following references for you to consider:

Publications:

Podcasts:

Films:

Ways to help:

Donations accepted at:

Ways to get help: