We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s announcement about the preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. We extend our deepest condolences to the affected families, communities, Cowessess First Nation, and all residential and day school survivors.
This tragic discovery follows last month’s announcement by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in B.C. of the remains of 215 children who died at Kamloops Indian Residential School.
In what Indigenous leaders are calling “a crime against humanity,” we acknowledge that it is likely that many more tragic discoveries of Missing Children will surface as hundreds more unmarked graves and burial sites are investigated. We grieve for the thousands of families who have been waiting for their children to come home and for the legacy of trauma inflicted upon Indigenous peoples.
This latest discovery reconfirms the devastating impacts of the Indian Residential School system on Indigenous families and communities across Canada. To honour these children and those who have not been found, we call on residents of Elgin and Middlesex to join us in our commitment to listening, learning, and unlearning.
Indigenous families and communities have long borne the burden of the residential school system alone, speaking out about the trauma this system caused and working to identify those who did not survive.
We have a responsibility as a non-Indigenous organization to increase our own understanding and help dismantle the legacy of colonialism. Now is the time for us as a colonial organization to recognize the ongoing racism against Indigenous Peoples across Canada and commit to learning and action, including continuing to advocate to all levels of government to implement the TRC calls to action.
As a local United Way residing on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapeewak peoples and the current home of Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, Munsee-Delaware Nation, and the growing urban Indigenous population in London and St. Thomas, we acknowledge we have much work to do. We commit to being uncomfortable and calling out racism wherever we see it, in all its forms, particularly against Indigenous peoples.
Join us as we explore these resources on our continued learning journey:
Read or re-read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and commit to the calls to action https://t.co/Kpqaqbf3sn?amp=1
Educate yourself by reviewing materials at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation https://t.co/i19Tuux7KR?amp=1
Read the National Student Memorial Register which remembers and honours children who never returned home from residential schools https://nctr.ca/memorial/
Learn about the Mount Elgin Industrial School that operated in our local area https://www.cottfn.com/mt-elgin-industrial-institute-indian-residential-school/
If you need support
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419