From the First Nations Health Authority :
"Indian Residential Schools did tremendous harm to First Nations in Canada. Helping people heal from the damage is critically important for individuals, families, communities and Nations. The consequences of the abuse suffered in these schools continues to have an intergenerational effect – essentially, the harm caused to students affects First Nations families and communities over generations."
The discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops made national news, as it should. However, for many Indigenous peoples and communities, unmarked burial sites, mass graves, and missing children is something they have known about for generations. These are histories shared across generations. Memories of aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings. Whispers of what Indigenous peoples have endured are lingering reminders of an injustice that continues to play out. These injustices were lived personally by too many victims to fathom.
Their trauma is not some relic of the past. The experiences of the survivors of the Residential Schools and their descendants must take up a bigger part of the national conversation. The open sercrets shared in Indigenous communities can no longer be news to the rest of the country. They are a part of our shared history and painful, enduring legacy of colonial violence. We honour the lives of the 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops Residential School.
This is a tragedy on a national scale. We need to mourn, we need to learn, we need to do better. But we also need to act, and for leaders from coast-to-coast-to-coast to properly address the lasting impacts of a history symbolized by the lives of 215 Indigenous children.
“Speaking from experience, we would like to highlight the need for broader action from the government of Canada. Including to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls to action, specifically actions pertaining to missing children and burial information. To fund long term community health and trauma support. To fund long term community based research across Canada. To develop a centralized and public cemetery database and registry and to enact legislation to protect all residential school cemeteries,”
Longman said they've been able to confirm at least 35 unmarked graves, although it is nearly impossible to confirm how many people are buried in the cemetery due to the historical practice of stacking graves.
Cowessess First Nation says 751 unmarked graves found near former Sask. residential school
"To honour the children lost, to acknowledge the legacy of the residential school system and its ongoing impacts, and to take the first significant steps towards reconciliation, Canada must act now with intention," NCTR executive director Stephanie Scott said