The recent confirmation of children’s remains on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School has been as a stark reminder of the terrible pain inflicted upon Indigenous peoples by the Canadian government and the Catholic, Anglican, United, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches during the settlement of Canada. This pain is not history- for Onkwehón: we across the country this announcement has brought to the surface distressing personal and/or intergenerational memories and has forced people to confront and consider trauma on terms other than their own.
It has also been a reminder that this country was built on the graves of those children and the thousands of others yet to be found, and that to live in Canada as a settler is to accept culpability for the colonial policies that are foundational to this country. While generations of Canadians have lived and died never knowing the name Duncan Campbell Scott, Indigenous peoples across this land have experienced the effects of his genocidal project every day since the first School was opened.
So, to our settler neighbours: understand this will not be the last grave site discovered at a residential school, and remember that while this most recent revelation may have shocked or disturbed you, your Indigenous friends live knowing that these sites exist, and that it is their family lying somewhere waiting to be found. Mending the injustices committed against Indigenous peoples requires more than flags flown at half-mast or orange ribbons pinned to shirts- it means working to make people whole by actively supporting the initiatives aimed at cultural restoration and self-determination being undertaken by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in communities everywhere.
Finally, to our cousins in Tk’emlúps te Secewépemc First Nation, and to all the other grieving Onkwehón:we across Anowara’kó:wa: we offer our condolences, and we hope that you are able to find the white fawn skin in the words and presence of your family, your friends, your Elders, and your community, so that soon the tears might be wiped from your eyes and the obstructions cleared from your ears and your throat.
The Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle Board of Directors