The discovery of bodies of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of Kamloops Residential School is devastating beyond words. All of us at OKT grieve with our friends, colleagues, clients and communities who have faced loss at the hands of Canada’s Residential Schools.
If this discovery teaches us anything, it is that the legacy of the Residential School System is not historical relic. It is current events. The extensive trauma caused by the schools is current and ongoing. Reckoning with that legacy means first, getting the whole truth.
We still don’t know, even after the TRC, the full extent of the crimes that took place at the Residential Schools. Unseal the records, expand the investigations, fully investigate those responsible.
Canada must provide First Nations with the necessary resources to carry this out if they wish and to respond to families’ wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.
Second, reconciliation must mean more than apologies and flowery words. The TRC’s Calls to Actions must be fully implemented, and the politicians who prevent, delay and make excuses for not implementing the Calls to Action should be held accountable.
Reconciliation also means justice. To have justice, Canada must stop fighting First Nation children in court, and must make its 9th non-compliance order its last, reversing its unconscionable decision to maintain inequitable funding for First Nations’ family services.
The effects of the trauma to Indigenous peoples both caused and exacerbated by Residential Schools are extensive. OKT is privileged & proud to support our clients’ fights for justice.
We will continue to work with Indigenous peoples, persons and organizations to pursue justice.
Below are some resources if you want to learn more.
1) The TRC’s Calls to Action: Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf (trc.ca)
2) TRC Report Executive Summary: Honouring_the_Truth_Reconciling_for_the_Future_July_23_2015.pdf (trc.ca)
3) Op-Ed by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond on what happens next:
4) On the occasion of the TRC’s 1st anniversary, OKT published a series of short essays. They are collected here:
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