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Indigenous History Month and the Kamloops Residential School Discovery

Updated: Sep 23, 2022


June is National Indigenous History Month, which this year is dedicated to the missing children, the families left behind, and the survivors of Residential Schools.

And now, just as we enter this month of acknowledgement, we have all heard the unimaginable news of two hundred and fifteen children in unmarked graves, signifying unthinkable disregard for the lives of Indigenous people. This discovery is a stark reminder of the discrimination and harm done to the original peoples of this land. The last Residential School did not close until 1996, and the harm is ongoing for the survivors, for their families, and for the communities that lost so many precious children: sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents.

Our hearts break, and our thoughts go out to the Indigenous people in our film and television community. We cannot begin to understand the pain and trauma this news will have caused.

We understand that this discovery is traumatic and devastating and want to ensure those needing additional supports reach out for support if needed. Below are listed support lines:

Kuu-Us Crisis line: 1-800-588-8717 – provides support to Indigenous people throughout the province of British Columbia

National IRS crisis line: 1-866-925-4419 f- or anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.

General Mental Health Support Line (BC-wide) 310-6789 – free emotional support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair

Employee and Member Assistance Programs for BC’s MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY UNIONS.

It is our shared responsibility to commit to reconciliation and decolonization with Indigenous peoples. We all have a role to play in working towards reconciliation and the implementation of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The following is an excerpt of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s statement to mark the first day of Indigenous Peoples History month and in advance of the June 2 anniversary of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Every Child Matters

“In the days since the discovery of the remains of children from Tk’emlúps te Secweìpemc First Nation and those who attended Kamloops Indian Residential School, there has been an outpour of support to our people and communities. Flags are half mast, children’s shoes line the steps at Parliament and at monuments across the country and an orange wave is washing over social media. All eyes are on First Nations as we attempt to digest the most recent evidence of the genocide against our people, our children.

We have the attention of our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters, many of whom seek direction on how to show support. It’s incumbent on us right now to work together to seize the opportunity to harness this awareness and this energy. Everyone has a role. Every single government and person in Canada can help drive change, to honour our shared history and commit to doing better as a country.

The Government of Canada must respond to First Nations seeking assistance in finding our lost children and support our mourning First Nations communities. We deeply appreciate the support of so many concerned Canadians. I demand that all governments commit to supporting First Nations seeking thorough investigations into former residential school sites and to take any, and all action available to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions…

The discovery at Tk’emlúps te Secweìpemc First Nation confirms what First Nations have believed for decades took place at residential schools. With increased awareness, it’s my hope there will be increased understanding for the searing reality of intergenerational impacts of the “Indian” Residential School system. I encourage every single person in Canada to stand with First Nations as we press forward for action to ensure our children are returned to their people to finally receive the respect and dignity not provided to them in life.

I encourage any concerned Canadian to write their Member of Parliament to press for the full implementation of all the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. We must continue to reveal the truth, no matter how painful, in order to move toward reconciliation.”

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