June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada – a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions, achievements, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. However, this year we share the grief and sadness that many of our Indigenous staff, youth, partners, and their families are feeling after the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a Residential School site in Kamloops BC.
Our deepest condolences go out to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community and all Indigenous families whose children did not come home. We also honour and remember those who survived the residential school system and their families, many of whom continue to live with trauma from those experiences. We know that voicing our sympathies is not enough. While the deep horror and sorrow of this discovery are new to many of us, it is sadly, not new to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis families. This appalling news is yet another reminder that we all have much work to do to dismantle systems of oppression, violence and racism that remain entrenched in Canadian society.
NPower Canada joins with others in our communities expressing the need to urgently act upon the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As we begin National Indigenous History Month we encourage all of you to learn more about our shared history and the realities of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. This moment presents us with an opportunity to educate ourselves, have deeper discussions with colleagues, friends and family, and also gives us the opportunity to do better individually and collectively.
Below are a few resources that can provide education or context and information. National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (PDF) The University of Alberta – Indigenous Canada Program – Open Online Course from the Faculty of Native Studies National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Legacy of Hope Foundation Miskanawah (Alberta) Native Child and Family Services (Ontario) Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre (Nova Scotia) We know this news is incredibly unsettling and profoundly difficult for many, so we also encourage you to access the mental health and wellness resources available to you and seek the support you need.
Support is available for those affected by the lingering effects of residential schools:
- The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and anyone affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.