EPL statement about the recent findings at Kamloops Residential School site

EPL mourns the lives of 215 children lost at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. We send our deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.

We acknowledge the tragic legacy of the residential school system and reaffirm our commitment to the TRC’s Calls to Action.

We stand with our Elder in Residence, Elder Jo-Ann Saddleback, as she shares her heartfelt and impactful feelings regarding Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation’s recent tragic discovery. 

“When people ask what the word for “child” is in Cree, we say, Awâsis, but it doesn’t mean “child”, rather it means “Little Skybeing that was loaned to us in the most holy, sacred way”. K’se Manito (Kind Compassionate Creator), Himself, dictated that is how we are to treat His children. Residential schools were the policies of a government bent on “killing the Indian in the child”. Reconciliation demands we not give up on or hide the truth or make it nicer.

The Indigenous nations are not surprised, we knew this happened in great numbers and throughout the TRC, parents and grandparents begged that we continue the search for our missing children; and knew more would be found. What we are is heartbroken. Ceremonies all over are going on today and throughout the week for 215 children finally found and may now go home. We are well into two hundred years that Indigenous nations have not had the rights to our own children.

The devastating impacts to the children, the parents, the families, grandparents and communities live for generations. We talk about Justice and for us Justice means healing. When we are healed, we will have received Justice. It is my hope we work together for Justice.

I don’t yet possess the kind and hopeful words, but with each Truth revealed, no matter how heartbreaking and horrific, we are reminded anew the importance of the work to reconcile.”

Elder Saddleback works with the Edmonton community from PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN at EPL. For more information,visit epl.ca/elder-in-residence.

Survivors of the Indian Residential School system and intergenerational family members can receive support through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSS) 24/7 Emergency Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419.

EPL encourages people to take this time to access the resources and information available to reflect on and recommit to developing a deeper understanding of Indigenous history in Canada, the journey towards reconciliation and how it impacts all Canadians: epl.ca/indigenous.