Kamloops Anniversary and National Indigenous History Month 2023
Please see the following message from the Indigenous Educational Wellness Team ahead of the anniversary of the Kamloops residential school discovery and Indigenous Peoples Month 2023 (National Indigenous History Month).
“SAVE THE WHALES!.” This is one of the messages that you will read if you were to go to Marineland in Niagara Falls during an animal rights protest. It’s an important message for our planet, animals, animal lovers, and for everyone. It forces us to ask ourselves, do we care for the Earth and protect the planet for future generations, the faces that are not yet here or, do we commodify the Earth without any acts of reciprocity? Marineland opened in 1961. These Marineland protests have been held since the mid-1980’s.
‘EVERY CHILD MATTERS!” The news about the discovery of 215 potential grave sites at the Kamloops Indian Residential School was released by the media to the country, and the world on May 28, 2021. For many, this was the first they heard of this part of Canada’s history, however Volume 4 of TRC’s (2015) Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials validates survivors’ statements that were formerly dismissed.
The first Christian-Canadian Genocidal Encampment for Indigenous Children1 (Doxtater, 2016), commonly called ‘Indian Residential Schools,’ opened in 1831. The Mohawk Institute is about a 30-minute drive from the HWDSB Education Centre.
Many individuals that found employment at the Genocidal Encampments disguised themselves as either educators or holy people (p. 40, Under the Guise of Education, Restorative Journey). Indigenous communities continue to work to heal from these experiences, while educating the world about the facts and the intergenerational impacts that so many individuals, families, communities, clans, and Nations continue to heal from.
The Mohawk Institute closed in 1970. The last Genocidal Encampment in Canada closed in 1996. There are no reports of Canadians forming groups to protest the existence of Christian-Canadian Genocidal Encampments for Indigenous Children during the 165-year history.
As Genocidal Encampments faded from existence, and Canadian consciousness, the 60’s Scoop, a form of apprehending Indigenous children as a pseudo ‘protection’ mandate, would skyrocket. To be clear, we know the “60’s” Scoop began decades before to 1960’s and its intergenerational legacies persist.
This is where the realities of Indigenous peoples and Canadians require attention and healing. The systems, based on legislative genocide, were developed for the Crown to gain/create title to land. The treaties with the Crown were made on a Nation-to-Nation basis. Nations are defined by language, common culture, common ceremony/belief, government, and territory. If the Crown was able to eliminate Indigenous languages, culture, beliefs, traditional governance models, and connection to Ancestral homelands, they could then argue in their courts, our existence as sovereign nations and deem us ‘Canadian Indians.’ Not one Indigenous Nation surrendered our/their sovereignty. Canada is currently practicing the principles of free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous peoples to implement an UNDRIP Act.
We are at a constant intersection of grief and celebration. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report was released in 2015. Within the report were 94 Calls to Action that were written with the intent to help in the healing process. How many educators read them? How many know the connection between intergenerational trauma and what was disguised as education?
June is National Indigenous History month, leading up to Indigenous Peoples (Solidarity) Day on June 21st. We appreciate HWDSB’s support for Indigenous learners and staff to exercise their right to observe June 21st as a day to celebrate. HWDSB continues to incorporate Indigenous Education throughout the year, not limited to the month of June (see IEC Strategic Action Plan). National Indigenous History Month reflects the legacies of colonialism, genocide, trauma, and survival. We work towards intergenerational wellness to nurture meaningful relationships rooted in eternal peace, friendship, and respect. Indigenous learners, families and staff need to be seen, heard, valued, respected, and cared for and cared about within the context of our shared history.
As we continue to walk forward as treaty partners, we will work together to protect the rights of all children. In 1959 the UN endorsed the International Rights of a Child. However, Canada closed the last Genocidal Encampment in 1996 and did not remove “residential schools” from the Indian Act until 2014, one year before the TRC was released. EVERY CHILD MATTERS.
Many of our languages have been protected, many are resurging. Our culture and ceremonies are being practiced. We have not surrendered our sovereignty. We continue to practice the principles of the Dish Treaty, we utilize what the Earth provides, we share, and we protect the Earth for future generations.
We are still here. We will always be here. On June 2, 2015, the 95 Calls to Action were released. We take this day to inform every child of their rights.
- Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
- Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Missing Children Project
- HWDSB We Help
- TRC Talk – Call to Action 43
- TRC Talk – Call to Action 62
- TRC Talk – Call to Action 63
- Ontario College of Teachers – Restorative Journey: Indigenous Educational Wellness
- Ontario College of Teachers – A Rotinonhsyón:ni Representation of the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession
- HWDSB – Indigenous Education SharePoint Page
- HWDSB – Indigenous Education Public Page
United Nations Rights of a Child
It was agreed way back
In the year ’59
Since adults have Rights
I should have mine.
UN’s Rights of a Child
Is very long too
To start you off
We’ll name just a few.
To be safe and to learn
Be heard and to play
And be able to grow
And have a safe home to stay.
Access to health
And nutrition for growth
A Doctor or Dentist?
I should have both.
I have a Right to my name
And Nation of birth
A Right to be free
For my young years on Earth.
A Right to clean air?
And water to drink?
If you’re polluting the Earth
Please stop and think.
Each year on June 2
We need you to say
Rights of a Child
On our own special day!