Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement marking one year since the announcement of unmarked graves found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School:
“May 27 marks one year since the preliminary findings of unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. For the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, they are known as Le Estcwicwéy̓, or The Missing.
“Finding Le Estcwicwéy̓ began a national awakening, as all of Canada came to terms with the atrocities committed at residential schools, which is a truth that survivors have always known. Since then, more Indigenous communities in B.C. and across the country have announced similar findings. There will be more in the months and years to come as Indigenous communities take on this painful and difficult work.
“On May 23, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc held a community event to honour Le Estcwicwéy̓ and to give strength to survivors, intergenerational survivors and their families. We know that many travelled from all over Canada and the United States to attend and take part in community healing.
“Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir has said that it was Le Estcwicwéy̓, the children, who brought us together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. Together, we grapple with the full truth of the immeasurable loss and the shocking violence the Canadian residential school system inflicted on Indigenous Peoples. The consequences of these atrocities are felt by people, families and communities to this day.
“I commend the unwavering leadership and the courage of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc people in bringing healing to families and intergenerational survivors. I also commend the many communities and their leaders who have undertaken the heart-wrenching work of finding answers.
“The Missing remind us of our responsibility to uncover the truth of Canada's colonial history, to face the continued intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools and to take meaningful action toward reconciliation for current and future generations. This means confronting Indigenous-specific racism and narratives that seek to deny or diminish the harms of the residential school system.
“I invite all British Columbians to honour Le Estcwicwéy̓. There is still much work to do, and more difficult days lie ahead. We all have a responsibility to stand as leaders and to help bring respect to where there has been indignity, comfort where there has been pain, and hope where there has been healing.”
Support services are available.
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former residential school students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1 866 925-4419.
Within B.C., the KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a First Nations and Indigenous-specific crisis line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free from anywhere in British Columbia. The KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll-free at 1 800 588-8717. The Youth Line can be called direct at 250 723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250 723-4050, or online: https://www.kuu-uscrisisline.com/