Media Releases

 

 

We express our deepest sympathies to the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc people on whose territory the bodies of 215 children were found in the area of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Our thoughts are with them as they step in as the caretakers of these children.The deep and inconsolable sorrow related to the findings at the Kamloops Indian Residential School expands beyond the Kamloops community. I wish to also recognize the local Indigenous Nations, communities and people across the Metro Vancouver region, for whom this finding is a heart-wrenching reminder of their own experiences, the experiences of loved ones, and the memories of ancestors lost as a result of the residential school system.In recognition of this significant event and in honour of the 215 children and their families, Metro Vancouver will fly all flags at half-mast for 215 hours.The reality of this genocide is that while generations upon generations of people lived the trauma of these experiences, some of us are only coming to understand the depths of the tragedy. It is estimated that 150,000 children attended residential schools across Canada and more than 6,000 of those children died before they could ever return home to bear the scars of the physical, sexual, and mental abuse they endured.Today marks the start of National Indigenous History Month. There is a lot of work ahead to help heal the wounds and living trauma inflicted on Indigenous communities by the harmful legacy of the residential school system. A step that each of us can take this month is to read the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report and have conversations with family, friends, and colleagues to help understand the realities that have shaped our current society.The lack of education on residential schools has done a disservice to all Canadians. Many Metro Vancouver residents may not realize that in this region, St. Paul's residential school in North Vancouver operated from 1899-1959. Students were brought in from across the region and beyond, and were subjected to being fed poorly, chicken-pox outbreaks, and toward the end, living in a school that was condemned in 1957 but not closed for another two years after that.We continue to be grateful for the remarkable and difficult work completed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, and the dedicated advocates who work every day, to shine a light on the genocide that took place in our own backyard so that we can do the hard work needed to heal.Though the doors of these residential schools may be closed, this dark chapter in Canada's history is not. Metro Vancouver remains committed to reconciliation and operationalizing the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.