The Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society is available for survivors and those affected at 1-800-721-0066 or on the 24 hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419. British Columbia has a First Nations and Indigenous Crisis Line offered through the KUU-US Crisis Line Society at 1-800-588-9717.
The remains of 215 Indigenous children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation near Kamloops, British Columbia on May 27, 2021.
These children should never have been taken from their families.
Residential schools were part of a colonial policy to eradicate Indigenous cultures, languages, and communities. The last school did not close until 1996 and intergenerational trauma, ongoing harms, and discriminatory practices continue.
It is the responsibility of all settlers living on these lands to ensure justice and accountability not only for the 215 children whose bodies are buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, but for all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.
Listen to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities and peoples and support their calls for justice and accountability. Do not ask Indigenous people to support your learning or to share ways for you to take action if they have not offered. Indigenous Peoples and communities are grieving and have been sharing resources and knowledge for many years.
Below are some ways that you can begin to reflect and take action:
Call on your elected representatives to take action
Call on your elected representatives at all levels of government to act for justice and accountability by asking the federal government to:
- Implement the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
- Implement the 213 calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;
- Stop litigation of First Nations children and comply with the 2020 Canada Human Rights Tribunal ruling on funding of child welfare services and Jordan’s principle of eligibility;
- Implement the calls in the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada’s Spirit Bear Plan;
- Pass into law Bill C-15 to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- Fully cooperate with international investigations into human rights abuses experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada;
- Implement UN recommendations to halt resource development projects that do not have the free, prior, and informed consent of affected communities;
- Fully fund mental health and other services to support Indigenous peoples in dealing with traumas caused by colonial policies and practices, in accordance with their wishes;
- Where requested by affected communities, fully fund examinations of burial grounds at other former residential and day schools and ensure that Indigenous peoples control access to sites according to their own laws and customs;
- Investigate and prosecute perpetrators responsible for the deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools;
- Appoint a special rapporteur and create a legal framework to protect burial sites; and
- Urge the Catholic Church to release all records and photos related to residential schools, and again seek an apology and reparations for survivors and their families.
Share with your communities
- Talk to your non-Indigenous friends and family members, including children, about the residential school system and the ongoing harms. Please be mindful that people are grieving and many are reliving their pain and trauma.
- Share posts on social media from Indigenous-led organizations.
- Use our social media images to raise awareness. Use a trigger warning in your social media posts to respect the fact that people are reliving their pain and trauma.
Attend memorial events
Memorial events for the 215 children found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School are happening in communities from coast to coast and even virtually.
Find a memorial event near you or online to attend. Find out if non-Indigenous people are welcome to attend the memorial event. If you are welcome, wear an orange shirt to show your support for #EveryChildMatters.
Donate to Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives
Donate directly to Indigenous-led organizations that are supporting residential school survivors and their families along with language revitalization, cultural and land-based initiatives. Find a grassroots organization in your community to donate to or consider donating to the following:
- New Friendship Centre for the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society
- First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
Learn about the ongoing impacts of the residential school system
- Read the full report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in particular the 94 calls to action
- Read the full report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and in particular the 231 Calls for Justice
- Use Truth and Reconciliation: My Action Plan from the late Sarah Robinson to support your learning and action
- Read the Spirit Bear Plan from the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society