Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation discovered an unmarked gravesite at the Kamloops Residential School holding the remains of 215 children.
This is a horrific discovery, a tragedy of huge scale. Flags are flying at half-mast across the country, honouring these children who were ripped from their families, from their way of life, from their traditions and culture, and sent to residential school.
The story of the 215 children in Kamloops is one that was repeated over and over at residential schools across the country. These institutions cared little for the lives under their charge. We have always known there were deaths—those that were recorded and many more that were unrecorded. Children lost to disease, neglect, punishment, malnutrition, or from attempts to escape. The 215 lost souls are a stark reminder of how many children lost their lives, how many young people were tossed aside in the foul quest to “take the Indian out of the child.”
The tragedy of residential schools is not “history”—it is an ongoing trauma for families and communities. And it should be a wake up call for all of us—a reminder that we must create a different future. We must do more.
National Indigenous History Month starts tomorrow. An opportunity for reflection and education—and for action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action remain unfulfilled. It is our collective responsibility to listen, to learn, and to act.
For all the children who were taken. For all that live today with the trauma of their past. For all who perished. For the 215.
National Indian Residential School 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419