03 Jun Statement in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples on Kamloops Indian Residential School Burial Site
Insights from the 8 80 Cities Team
8 80 Cities stands in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, the land we now call Canada and beyond.
This past week the remains of 215 children were discovered on a mass grave on the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School, located on the unceded lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation, now called Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Our hearts are with the peoples of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation as they honour the memories of their lost children to the violent hands of Canada’s institutional and state-sanctioned racism.
These 215 lost represent many more children lost at residential schools across the country, and many more children subject to unimaginable abuse. Residential schools were created by the Canadian Government and the Catholic Church to ‘civilize’ and destroy native culture in children. The loss of 215 native children is a product of white supremacy and systemic racism. Indigenous peoples have been experiencing life-changing trauma for decades. Indigenous families have been grieving the losses of their children and confronting intergenerational trauma resulting from abuse, murder, and organized cultural genocide.
It is important to not relegate the abuse Indigenous peoples have experienced to the past. While the doors of the last residential schools closed sometime between 1996-98, many of them were converted into orphanages and child welfare institutions. In the 1960s, a time what is now called the ‘Sixties Scoop’, over 20,000 Indigenous children were forcefully adopted primarily by non-Indigenous families leaving children removed from their own families, culture and sense of belonging. Today, Indigenous children remain overrepresented in the foster care system where more than 50% of children under 14 in foster care in Canada are Indigenous (2016 Census Canada).
As an organization comprised of settlers, we are taking the time to learn and reflect. We recognize that we all have a responsibility in the work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Our 8 80 mandate centers the wellbeing and quality of life of children and elders so that we can create better cities for all people. We recognize that we need to understand and confront the past to build the inclusive communities we desire for the future.
Today we encourage you open your minds and hearts, become a good ally, and consider ways to express solidarity and take action in your own work. We invite you to make intentional spaces to have these conversations in your families and communities. We urge you to read and share resources for settlers such as guides produced by the ONCanada Project. As an organization writing from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, we would like to share a few great organizations working in the area to provide equitable services to our First Nation, Indigenous, Metis brothers and sisters: Na-Me-Res Native Men’s Residence, Thunder Women Healing Lodge, Native Women’s Resource Centre, True North Aid & many more.
Every child matters. Every Indigenous life matters. We all have a part to play in Truth & Reconciliation.