Last week's disclosure that a mass grave with the remains of 215 children was found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has been a difficult reminder of the importance of the ongoing work to educate myself and my kids about racism against Indigenous people in Canada.
I thought I knew the overall history of the residential school system and how children were forcibly removed from their homes to attend these schools with the sole purpose of eradicating their culture and language.
I thought I knew about the horrific physical and sexual abuse that these children faced from the Catholic priests and nuns operating the schools.
But I'm sad to admit that I did not know that many of these schools had mortality rates as high as 60%. I did not realize that these schools frequently didn't even inform families when their child had died. I did not know that children were buried in unmarked, mass graves.
All weekend I've been thinking about Indigenous families and the pain they are feeling. We can't pretend that the impacts of the residential school system are "in the past" or "part of Canada's history" because the generational trauma is current, ongoing and acute.
What can you do?
➡️ Donate to organizations like the Indian Residential School Survivors Society who provide grief and loss counseling and crisis services to survivors (www.irsss.ca).
➡️ Seek out the real stories of Indigenous people who survived residential schools.
➡️ Educate yourself by reading the reports by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (nctr.ca/records/reports/).
➡️ Buy books written about residential schools by Indigenous authors to read with your children.
➡️ Participate in Orange Shirt Day on September 30 (https://www.orangeshirtday.org/).
I'd love to hear your other ideas and suggestions. How are you taking action?
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.