At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, our hearts are heavy with the weight of the tragic discovery of the 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
We will never be able to understand or fathom the pain and trauma the colonized history of Canada has caused, but we will listen and learn with the intent to do better by taking action.
The legacy of the Residential School system in Canada is one of harm and violence. The legacy of Canada’s colonial systems and discriminatory practices are still a present day reality for many. We acknowledge that these historical and present-day injustices affect the Indigenous communities we serve and the lives of children and youth who face systemic racism and oppression, resulting in societal barriers and adversities.
We commit to listening to and amplifying Indigenous voices who have been speaking this truth for decades, and their stories of the many Indigenous children who were taken from their families. Indigenous children were made to endure harm and violence that children should never have to. There were over 130 residential schools that operated across Canada from the 1870s to 1996. More than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend these institutions.
Reconciliation is meaningless if you have not learned the truth of Canada’s history.
We commit here to deepen the way we act to disrupt racism against Indigenous people to ensure that all young people, especially those from Indigenous communities feel protected, safe and included within BBBS.
BBBS will address colonization by focusing efforts to promote self-identity, diversity, and inclusion.
We must create safe spaces for critical dialogue and reflection about racism within our communities. We must be open to learn and commit to act based on what we learn together. And we must invest in initiatives and efforts to eradicate systemic racism sustainably, far beyond the ebbs and flows of the current news cycle. Join us in building a better Canada for all.
For many residential school survivors, family members, and Indigenous Youth this discovery has triggered traumatic memories and/or strong emotional reactions. If you are feeling distressed and need support, there are resources available through the Indigenous Hope for Wellness Help Line, Albert Health Services, and through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.