Until June 8, flags at JIBC campuses will be lowered to half-mast in memory of the 215 children found in a mass grave on the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School
To the JIBC community,
It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that JIBC and its Office of Indigenization pass on news reported late last week of another example of the dark legacy of the residential school system.
The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation, located on the unceded, traditional territory of the Secwépemc Peoples, publicly confirmed in a statement made by Chief Rosanne Casimir, that the remains of 215 children who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School were discovered on the former school site using ground-penetrating radar. Evidence suggests that children as young as three years old are buried in unmarked graves.
Chief Casimir said in news reports, “To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths.” She calls the discovery an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about, but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School,” which was the largest school in the country’s Indian Affairs residential school system.
We are reminded of the lessons of Orange Shirt Day held at the end of September in commemoration of the time of year when Indigenous children were sent to residential school. The orange shirt is representative of Canada’s dark history of using the Indian residential school system as a tool of genocide and serves as a visible reminder that Indigenous children matter. Today, people are wearing an orange shirt to mourn the innocent victims of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. It cannot be lost upon us that the same genocidal violence that stole Indigenous children away from families and their communities continues to target Indigenous Peoples today across Canada in multiple forms.
It should be noted that this tragic discovery in Kamloops comes just days before the beginning of National Indigenous History Month. As such, it serves as a strong indication that our past is inextricably linked with our present and that reconciling the Nation to Nation relationship must include honouring the Truths of the residential school experience.
We will lower our flags at half-mast to honour the memory of the 215 children found in a mass grave on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School and the flags will remain lowered for one hour for each of the children, starting today until June 8.
We mourn together with the parents, grandparents, relatives, Survivors, and communities in all four corners of our country.
Dr. Michel Tarko
JIBC President and CEO