The Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) said it is deeply saddened by the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Last week, news emerged that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc found the remains using ground-penetrating radar on the site of the former school.
The KNC said the remains of the children, some as young as three years old, are considered undocumented deaths. The school housed up to 500 students at any given time from First Nations around B.C. and beyond.
“The Kamloops Indian Residential School now stands as the eternal resting place for these children. The Ktunaxa Nation Council thanks the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Leadership for acknowledging their responsibility as their caretakers. We know there are thousands more children who died in these institutions who are buried in graves marked and unmarked across Canada,” said the KNC.
The Ktunaxa Nation added that residential schools have left a legacy that is still felt in every Indigenous community across Canada.
“These 215 children had names. They had families. The Ktunaxa Nation Council hopes that in some way, this sad news brings a sense of closure and peace to every mother and father, every brother and sister, every grandmother and grandfather and every community that experienced the trauma of having a family member never return home from the school,” said the KNC.
The Ktunaxa Nation Council said it is calling on all Canadians to learn the history of the country’s residential school system and what it was designed to do.
“Healing can only begin when the absolute truth is known,” said the Ktunaxa Nation. “The Ktunaxa Nation flag at the Ktunaxa Nation Government Building has been lowered to half-mast in memory of the 215 children that were taken from their families and never returned home.”
A 24-hour phone service is available, called the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, to support residential school survivors. It can be reached at 1-866-925-4419. In B.C., the KUU-US Crisis Line provides First Nations and Indigenous specific support and can be reached at 1-800-588-8717.
More: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR)