June 02, 2021, Ottawa, ON - The hearts of the NIB Trust Fund Board of Trustees are with the family members of the 215 children recently discovered and the communities in the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc region. Although, we know these unmarked graves exist, we acknowledge the rippling effects this news brings to the survivors, our communities and how the Indian Residential Schools continue to bring grief, sadness, and loss.
We mourn with our brothers and sisters while thinking about those children who could have been, and the generations lost. We honor the work of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation for locating the children and pay respect to the survivors for sharing these painful memories and helping to locate these children.
We know that these children are not going to be the last found. First Nations, Métis and Inuit people have known for generations that these unmarked graves and burial sites exist. There are many Kamloops-like grave sites out there and many more innocent souls to be found, recognized, and honored.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Report released its finding that more than 3,200 of our relatives lay in school or school-related cemeteries named and unnamed, with many sites not identified. The report also outlined an overall need for a national strategy for the documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of these residential school cemeteries and future sites. It is past due time for all Governments, and Canadians to implement the Calls to Action and honor calls 71-76 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We hope the recent news brings closure to some families, and some hope to communities that our children can still come home. This reinforces the importance of the mission at the NIB Trust Fund and the need to address the long-term harms of the Indian Residential School System.
For all Canadians, understanding, education, and exposure to this dark history, not just condolences, is needed.
We encourage you to visit the National Centre for Trust and Reconciliation (NCTR) for the report on missing children and unmarked burials. The NCTR Archives and Collections is the foundation for ongoing research and learning and research.
If you are currently struggling, please call the National Indian Residential School Support Line: 1-866-925-4419.