The remains of 215 Indigenous children were found buried at a former Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. As of right now, these missing children are all accounted for as undocumented deaths. Documented to be as young as three years old, these children came from First Nations communities from all over of what is known as British Columbia. This is a time of grief for all peoples living on this land, and especially for the communities whose children were stolen from them. 

STAND Canada stands in solidarity with all Indigenous Communities impacted. While we sit with the horrific and undeniable evidence of Canada’s genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples, we as an organization, and as individuals, have a responsibility to do better and continue to take up the call to implement the Calls to Action outlined already in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. These events are not only relegated to history, they are living personal and intergenerational traumas that many of our neighbours, friends, and family continue to face.

The National Residential School Death Register is an important call to action that has been issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This memorial site aims to honour these children and their families, as well as to properly honour the children that never returned home from the schools. Apart from this current affair, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has identified 1953 children, 477 students who require further investigation, and 1242 unidentified students. The register currently has 4118 Indigenous children identified who have died from the Canadian residential school system. As the first Residential school opened in 1831 and the last one closed in 1996, it is likely that these numbers will continue to grow as further investigations are done. 

STAND calls for action to ensure that the 94 Calls-to-Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are completed on Missing Children and Burial Information. Six of these calls have yet to be completed.

These calls are listed as:

  1. We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
  2. We call upon the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to allow it to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  3. We call upon the federal government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and former residential school students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children. 
  4. We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child’s burial location, and to respond to families’ wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested,
  5. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children
  6. We call upon the parties engaged in the work of documenting, maintaining, commemorating, and protecting residential school cemeteries to adopt strategies in accordance with the following principles:
  7. i) The Aboriginal community most affected shall lead the development of such strategies
  8. ii) Information shall be sought from residential school Survivors and other Knowledge Keepers in the development of such strategies.
  9. iii) Aboriginal protocols shall be respected before any potentially invasive technical inspection and investigation of a cemetery site. 

The National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to former students. This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at: 1-866-925-4419.

STAND Canada (formerly STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur)) advocates to make preventing and ending genocide a cornerstone of Canadian domestic and foreign policy. Since it was founded in 2005, STAND has become the leading organization in Canada for youth-led anti-genocide activism.

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