We mourn as the remains of 215 Indigenous children were recently discovered in a mass grave at a Residential School in British Columbia.
Residential Schools were schools sponsored by the Canadian government and run by churches, with the clear objective being to assimilate the Indigenous population into a Euro-Canadian and Christian way of life. These children were forcibly taken from their families and were made to live in terrible conditions, which included poor sanitation, overcrowding, and inadequate nutrition and healthcare. It was the aforementioned conditions that lead to the death of many of these children.
The Indigenous children at Residential Schools also suffered great emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Children were strictly punished for using their own language or embracing their own culture, forced into involuntary work, and in general received a poor education. Indigenous individuals and communities suffered a loss of language and a loss of culture as a result, the lasting impacts of which can still be felt by many Indigenous people to this very day.
We mourn the loss of these 215 children because what occurred was genocide. The voices of those that suffered abuse and the voices of those who have family members who attended Residential Schools or Indian Day Schools need to be heard.
We mourn the discovery of the 215 Indigenous children, but we don't believe that they are the only ones. We hope that the rest of these mass graves will be discovered so that the full breadth of this atrocity can be heard and recognized. We hope for accountability and action. It is in this hope that the individuals and families affected by the atrocities that occurred can begin to find peace.
Every Child Matters