On May 27, 2021, the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc announced (in this press release) that, after decades of work, experts located the remains of 215 children on the grounds of what was once the site of Canada’s largest residential school, known as the Kamloops Indian Residential School, in the southern BC interior. The remains of these children, placed in unmarked graves, were discovered using ground-penetrating radar technology. The Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc have released this information sheet on how best to support them in these trying and tragic times. As the subsequent finding of several hundred unmarked graves by the Cowessess First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan indicates, we can realistically expect that many other sizable burial grounds near residential schools will be discovered over the next few months and years.
In light of these discoveries, members of the GSS Executive Committee determined that we should assist our members in gaining a better understanding of the larger issues at play by providing information resources on residential schools and Canada’s colonial policies towards Indigenous peoples. Reconciliation between Canada’s settler population and Indigenous nations cannot even begin until we have achieved a common understanding and fully acknowledge the extent and impact of this country’s colonial past and present on all Indigenous populations — First Nations, Inuit, and métis.
Members seeking more knowledge on the subject of residential schools may wish to begin by reading the following articles:
- “The Residential School System,” by Erin Hanson;
- “Residential Schools in Canada,” by J.R. Miller
- “This Is the Face of a Homegrown, Attempted Genocide,” by Leanne Simpson
- “Indian Residential Schools,” by Kory Wilson and Jane Henderson (in First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers, pp. 50-66)
- “Stealing Children to Steal the Land,” interview of Doreen and Kanahus Manuel by Naomi Klein
Members seeking further information on the impact of colonial policies and on ways to possibly counter their negative impacts may want to explore the following resources:
- Truth and Reconciliation Final Report (Canada)
- SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
In conclusion, members seeking a more complete list of resources are strongly encouraged to explore the GSS’s information sheet on residential schools, available here, also available below.