The recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children near a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. sent shivers down everyone’s spine and retraumatized First Peoples at Concordia and across Turtle Island. This finding is yet another horrific reminder of the profound abuse and pain inflicted on Indigenous Peoples in Canada historically and to the present day.
While the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996, the legacy of residential schools remains extremely heavy today. Many Northern communities – such as in Northern Ontario and Thunder Bay – are still forced to send their children hundreds of kilometers south to attend high school which increase their distress and put their life at risk. Moreover, the disproportionate representation of indigenous children in Canada’s child-welfare system continues till the present and is evidence of the colonial violence of the Canadian state and its efforts to assimilate Indigenous children. This is why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) first call to action is child welfare reform, and implementation of Jordan’s Principle.
We connect the Kamloops’ discovery to the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamek in September 2020 at the Lanaudière hospital (Qc). Joyce was issued medication that she was allergic to and filmed the racist slurs she received just before her death. The systemic racism against Indigenous people rampant during the residential school days remains firmly entrenched in Canada today.
We call upon the Government of Canada to end all legal battles with residential school survivors, their families, and their communities. We call upon the Canadian Legal Tradition to take judicial action against perpetrators of violence against Indigenous Peoples and, for once, uphold the Rights of Indigenous Children because Every Child Matters.
In the meantime, we offer our resources and research skills to ANY First Nation community requesting support on any issue we can help with. Our thoughts are with Kamloops First Nation, Manawan and all Indigenous communities across Canada who still suffer today from the harmful consequences of several centuries of colonialism.
The COHDS and ALLab team