Unthinkable loss spoken about but never documented

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Alderville First Nation members marched along County Road 45 on May 31 to remember the children discovered in the mass gravesite of a Kamloops B.C. residential school.

Chief Dave Mowat posted this on Facebook about the event.

“(I am) Proud of Alderville First Nation today as we commemorated the 215 children located at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“Thanks to the First Responders who led and followed us up ‘the 45’ from the Health Building to the Monument, keeping our progression safe.  Thanks to Greg Smoke for spearheading this today, and for bringing his family eagle staff.”

Photos reveal a large group wearing orange t-shirts with some people carrying signs raising the question about how many other First Nations youngsters may have been lost the same way.

Questions about when the Federal Government will undertake the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report which included six ones specific to identifying the young children and youth who were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools far from their homes and indoctrinated with non-indigenous values which included the loss of their birthright language. 

The mass gravesite with the remains of the 215 children has once again sparked First Nations’ calls for their rights for justice and action by the government.

The school in Kamloops operated for 80 years.

Posted on Dave Mowat’s Facebook page:

In Honour of the Lost Children of Tk’emlups te Secwepmc

As we learned through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the Residential School system in Canada was one in which physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse were used to “beat the Indian out of the child.” The Schools became law and these abuses in the church-run schools were shielded by that law, by Canadian law. As we learned again on Friday, May 28, 2021, with the report of the discovery of 215 children buried in unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops Industrial School in British Columbia, later known as the Kamloops Indian Residential School, we are appalled at this level of sadness and disrespect inflicted upon these children. All Canadians should be appalled! That the governments and its churches (in this case the Catholic Church) of this nation could justify such disrespect and abuse against young Indigenous children. That without the love of their mothers and fathers, extended families and communities, they would die so young and be buried in lonely, unmarked graves.

From Los Angeles, to Washington, to London, to China and all through Canada this story has been picked up and shared countlessly, on the unaccounted-for deaths of the young Indigenous children of this school, not to mention at the many other like schools across Canada. As Tk’emlups te Secwepmc First Nation (Kamloops) Chief Roseanne Casimir said it is “an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented…To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths.” So it continues, compounded pain, death, and evidence to show how abusive a young Canada could be to get rid of its “Indian problem.” That these schools continued so long into the 20th century is an expression of how much Canada had lost its way in the criminal assimilation efforts set down by it and the churches. That Canada knew of the unfit and unhealthy conditions of these schools and the high rates of death was a known fact by 1910! But it did nothing, because as Duncan Campbell Scott (Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs) said, the policy of the schools was “geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem.”

Alderville First Nation extends its heartfelt condolences and prayers to the Tk’emlups te Secwepmc First Nation as it deals with this profoundly disturbing discovery and loss. As the site of one of the early pre-Confederation “Indian Industrial Schools” in Canada, Alderville First Nation knows all too well the extent to which the Colonies and later the Dominion would go to make our children “emphatically new creatures” through church-run/state-sponsored assimilation programs. That our people and the Indigenous people across Canada survived to slowly and gradually use the same rule of law to show the world what this sad chapter in Canadian history entails is a testament to continued Indigenous strength and resilience.

Chief Dave Mowat, Alderville First Nation, ON. May 30, 2021

#kamloopsbc,#kamloopsindianresidentialschool,#chiefdavemowat,@aldervillefirstnation, #215children,#Tk’emlupsteSecwepmc

 

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