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It is with tremendous grief that Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) expresses our deepest condolences and prayers to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community and all the West Coast Nations for the 215 Indigenous children found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
For the 215 kids, 430 parents, 860 grandparents, and for the innumerable aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, and relatives NCFST) stands in unity with all our relations during this time of immense loss and healing. Children are the root of our culture; they are our sacred bundles and gifts from Creator. As we walk in solidarity with the community, we recognize the tremendous weight of these losses and the importance of creating space for folks to come together to grieve, heal, and honour the lives of those who have moved onto the Spirit World. NCFST will be providing sacred fires and other ceremonies and supports at several of our locations that span the North, South, East, and West locations of the City over the next nine days to ensure staff and community can safely offer tobacco and prayers.
The discovery of the mass grave is a reminder of the genocide perpetuated by Indian Residential Schools and has triggered deep emotional responses across Turtle Island. The intergenerational trauma caused by the Residential Schools, with the stated policy to “Kill the Indian to save the Child”, is a stark reminder that more action is needed to fully address current and past injustices committed against Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations.
Now is the time to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Now is the time for accountability and concrete action to achieve true reconciliation and devolution of services to Indigenous organizations and communities. Moreover, the TRC made six recommendations regarding missing children and burial grounds, including a call for the federal government to work with churches, Indigenous communities, and former residential school students “to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children. NCFST supports these calls to action including searching the grounds at other former residential schools to continue the journey of truth and reconciliation and support the healing journey that many families will need.
NCFST was founded by the urban Aboriginal community of Toronto to address the aftermath of Indian Residential Schools and mainstream child welfare. Over more than three decades we have grown into Canada’s largest multi-service urban Aboriginal agency providing holistic, culture-based programs and services and child protection for Aboriginal children and families. An Elder once asked, if it takes three days to walk into the bush, how many days will it take to walk back out again? The answer, of course, is three days. Canada’s colonial legacy runs deep, and we know it will take many years to address it. We must walk together at a brisk pace not only for all the children we have lost walking into the bush, but for all of those who have and will be born as we walk out again.
With our deepest respect and love.
All my relations
If you need support call 1-866-925-4419
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.