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For the children

When they buried the children
What they didn’t know
They were lovingly embraced
By the land
Held and cradled in a mother’s heart
The trees wept for them, with the wind
They sang mourning songs their mother’s
didn’t know to sing
bending branches to touch the earth
around them. The Creator cried for them
the tears falling like rain.
Mother Earth held them
until they could be found.
Now our voices sing the mourning songs
With the trees. The wind, light sacred fire
Ensure they are never forgotten as we sing

— Abigail Echo-Hawk, Pawnee


We sing, we cry, we mourn.

This week, we honour the 215 children whose remains were found one year ago beneath the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Justice Institute of British Columbia pays our deepest respects to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the many First Nations communities whose children attended Indian residential and industrial schools. We are committed to actively pursuing Truth and Reconciliation and understand that without education, healing, and redress, there is no justice.

It is an unacceptable Truth that Indigenous children located across Turtle Island were forced to attend a foreign public education system against the will of parents and families; caregivers criminally prosecuted lest they turn their children over to the state. The monstrosity of what was the Indian Affairs residential school system and its wake of death and destruction, must become an impetus for great change in this country. A change that starts within us all.

  • Where were you when you learned about the 215 children recovered?
  • What do you remember feeling at the time?
  • What have you done since this day to learn about our true history in this country?
  • What actions do you take to promote Indigenous pride, not genocide?

Residential schools are closed but the legacy of harm caused by these institutions and others, including ours, lives on. The legacy is not set in stone, however. We are creators and agents of change. Future generations inherit our progress. What can you do to advance Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation?

On the anniversary of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir’s confirmation and in honour of the many ceremonies that are scheduled throughout this week in Tk’emlups te Secwépemc, I call you to reflect and join me in solidarity. Today and every day, progress is possible.


Michel Tarko
JIBC President and CEO



Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator with a mission to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research. JIBC offers internationally recognized education that leads to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates; exceptional continuing education for work and career-related learning and development; and customized contract training to government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our education provides professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at every stage of their career contributing to safer communities and a more just society.