Letter of Solidarity – Remains of Indigenous Children Found at the KRS

CUPE Local 1936 stands in solidarity with Indigenous Communities across Canada and with Local 1936 Indigenous members as they mourn the loss of the 215 children whose remains were discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. We honour and acknowledge your collective and individual grief.

While the Kamloops Residential School operated from 1890 to 1978, this was one of many Residential Schools used by provincial and the Canadian government as part of the colonization of Indigenous children.  Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and families, and endured significant emotional, physical, sexual abuse and even death during their residence at Residential Schools located throughout Canada.

Our hearts go out to all Indigenous children, who suffered while residing in residential schools against their will.  Many of the children forcibly taken from their families were as young as three years old, and many never saw their families and loved ones again.  CUPE Local 1936 stands in solidarity with the families of children who were taken from them and honours the collective grief of Indigenous Communities nation-wide.

CUPE Local 1936 believes as settlers to stolen and unceded Indigenous territories, it is critical that we educate ourselves to better understand and acknowledge Canada’s blemished history.  This is one small part towards reconciliation as we attempt to help right the wrongs inflicted during colonization and the mass genocide of Indigenous peoples.  We encourage our non-Indigenous members to be active participants in reconciliation in an effort to repair the ongoing harm of colonization on Indigenous people throughout Canada.

Some examples of things that you can do to support Indigenous peoples at this time of grief and in the future are:

  • Wear orange on May 31st, 2021 in solidarity with the “Every Child Matters” movement in support of residential School Survivors. Many Indigenous people may be wearing Orange throughout May 31st-June 9th,2021 to honour the children who have been found.
  • Respect and support the Indigenous people in your life by educating yourself about the traumatic impact of residential schools on Indigenous people. Research the history of the Kamloops Residential School and other residential schools near your territories.
  • Try to avoid asking Indigenous people questions about residential schools as many are grieving the loss of the 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School, along with many other unfound, however missing children.
  • Get familiar with the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reports.
  • Write a letter to your MLA requesting that they honour the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action particularly articles 71-76 which are calls to action regarding Missing Children and Burial Information.
  • Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

CUPE Local 1936 recognizes that the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School may have a profound impact on Indigenous communities, individuals and Indigenous Local 1936 members.

Should you need to talk about how you’re feeling feel free to reach out to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society: Provides Counselling, Health Support and Cultural Support to Survivors of Indian Residential Schools.  The website is also listed here for your convenience.

As well, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

We are so sorry for your collective losses as a result of colonization and stand with you as you grieve.

In solidarity,

Sheryl Burns, President

Lee-Ann Lalli, Vice-President

Bernice Way, Secretary-Treasurer