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First Call Statement on the Kamloops Indian Residential School Grounds Discovery

First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition received the news of the 215 unmarked children’s graves found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School with great sorrow. We share and witness the grief of the generations of Indigenous families who lost these precious children to the colonial residential school system. The harms from this racist, genocidal system continue to affect Indigenous children and families in the present through high rates of poverty and violence, too many children taken into government care and on-going experiences of racism within health care, education, child welfare and justice systems.

We join the many First Call Coalition member organizations who have expressed their sorrow and determination to help counter the continuing impacts of the colonization of Indigenous peoples in Canada. We pledge our collective commitment to work with our Indigenous partners to decolonize and heal our institutions and our communities, including holding government and civil society accountable to the 35 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that reference residential schools. We also call on Canada to fully comply with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders to stop discriminating against First Nations children and to stop fighting Indigenous children and residential school survivors in court.

To learn more, visit:
• The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS): a provincial organization that provides services to Indian Residential School Survivors
• An Overview of the Indian Residential School System, a booklet which provides general information on the purpose, establishment, and history of the Indian residential school system in Canada.
Speaking Our Truth, A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith, a history book for children and youth with suggestions for action.
Project of Heart is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada.
• Learn more about the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, which stands with First Nations children, youth and families so they have equitable opportunities to grow up safely at home, be healthy, get a good education and be proud of who they are.