(Content Warning: Residential Schools; Ongoing Trauma)
The Indigenous Initiatives team at the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology would like to express our sorrow and outrage in response to the recent discovery of an unmarked grave containing the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
We also express sincerest condolences and solidarity to the families and to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, as well as all Nations affected.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation released a statement on June 3rd on how to support their community, which is available here.
This news has shaken us, even as it confirms truths we know have already been shared by Survivors within communities and publicly in testimonies. It reminds us of the hard and necessary truths that need to be continually processed and acted upon as we grapple with undoing the ongoing violence of settler colonialism. At the same time, we recognize that these truths are not just intellectual ones, but ones that we learn and take action against with our whole selves — including within our bodies, emotions, and spiritual selves.
The information that has recently come to light has different impacts for different people and communities.
To Indigenous colleagues, Indigenous faculty, and Indigenous students at UBC, we express solidarity and care as you do what you need to do to mutually console, breathe, and move through this time.
- The UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) healing and wellness resources includes a list of self-care strategies and resources for survivors, family members, Indigenous peoples and community members, students, and UBC faculty and staff.
- The Indian Residential School Emergency Crisis Line is available 24/7 for those that may need counselling and support 1-800-721-0066. Alternatively, the 24 hour National Crisis Line is also available 1-866-925-4419.
More broadly to any member of our community, Indigenous or non-Indigenous who may also be feeling responses to this information and wanting to further their own learning with care and responsibility, we would like to share a few resources that have been helpful to us:
- Statement on the Kamloops Indian Residential Schools Burials from the UBC Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre – includes information on Kamloops IRS and resources for further learning
- Statement on the Kamloops Residential School Burials from UBC Institute of Critical Indigenous Studies – includes a reflection of the ways that the education system has been used against Indigenous people and includes multiple resources and places for student and community support
- @Oncanadaproject on Instagram posted May 30, 2021 a succinct summary of what happened, information on residential schools, responses from Indigenous people, government, and settlers, and ideas for next steps.
- @BraidedArrows Facebook Live Conversation May 29, 2021 – We would like to amplify this conversation featuring the voices of Tasha, Andrea, and Rachelle, two Indigenous women and one black woman speaking about ways that non-Indigenous folks can support Indigenous folks to have difficult and supportive conversations in response to devastating events such as this one. You do not need a Facebook account to view.
- Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island, eds. Sophie McCall, Deanna Reder, David Gaertner, and Gabrielle L’Hirondelle. (2017) – an anthology of Indigenous stories that includes an introduction that guides readers on how to listen and the power of listening. (Physical and ebook copies available at UBC Library)
- Historica Canada: Voices from Here videos: This set of videos and summaries features testimonies by residential and day school Survivors, as well as the ongoing effects of such policies. Its main purpose is to promote a difficult and, at times, uncomfortable conversation about colonialism and racism in Canada. However, you may find it emotionally triggering, so please consider taking care of yourself and others when sharing and discussing this content.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada website contains foundational documentation and reporting (including resources for teaching and learning). One such document is Volume 4: Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials
Drawing from a draft document that our colleagues at the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office have been working on, we share some suggestions for those who are inviting conversations about this in the workplace or the classroom:
- Set a clear purpose for the conversation. Trying to meet different purposes – such as showing care, processing together, strategizing responses, and prioritizing actions – at once can be awkward, confusing, or frustrating.
- Consider whether involving everyone in the conversation is appropriate and what needs to happen in advance of conversations, such as smaller conversations between different self-selecting groups.
- Advise participants in the conversation about the goals and structure beforehand and allow people to choose whether and how to participate, and to ask questions and comment beforehand. Where possible, adjust the goals or format of the meetings in response to the concerns addressed while prioritizing the needs of those most impacted.
- Share resources and concrete offers of support, and allow people to take time away if necessary