Dear LDS family,
We are angered and profoundly saddened at the discovery of the undocumented loss of the lives of 215 Indigenous children at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School and on the territory of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and the hundreds more that have been since found at other former Residential School sites. While the stories of trauma, abuse, and terror Residential Schooling inflicted on Indigenous children, their families, and community continue to come to light, these discoveries are acutely painful reminders of the complex ongoing and intergenerational consequences of colonialism. Much truth remains to be told before we can move towards meaningful reconciliation.
As educators, knowing that children were removed from safe and loving homes to attend “schools” where abuse, neglect, and trauma took place sits heavy on our hearts and calls us to action, both through our commitment to the principles of Truth and Reconciliation in our education work and advocacy, and also in our engagement with our local and extended community in providing inclusive and accessible services for all learners.
This week we hold space for the survivors of Residential Schools, their families and communities, and the countless young lives tragically lost. We acknowledge the ongoing injustices happening to Indigenous peoples including the over representation of Indigenous peoples in the foster care system and penal system due to the systemic racism that continues to operate.
We ask you to join us in adding your voice to the calls for commitment from all levels of Canadian government to fulfill and fund the Calls To Action set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s report. In relation to education, we believe it’s critical to act promptly to fulfill the calls to action regarding eliminating educational funding discrepancies among Indigenous students and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students (early learners, school age children and youth, and post-secondary students), and those calls to action regarding providing full funding for:
- Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within one generation.
- Improving education attainment levels and success rates.
- Developing culturally appropriate curricula.
- Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.
- Enabling parental and community responsibility, control, and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.
- Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.
- Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.
Internally at LDS, we are looking at ways to continually enhance our own education and awareness of past and current colonial practices throughout this country and continent and how we, as mostly a settler community, can better our own practices and behaviours to be more sensitive, responsive and appropriate. Most immediately, we are committing to staff engaging in mutual learning about these issues so that we can be better allies and ensure we are not putting the emotional or educational burden on those who we are trying to be allies of.
Canada and its inhabitants have only just started on a journey to truth and reconciliation, and while it is a long journey ahead, commitment and action to addressing systemic racism and oppression of Indigenous peoples within Canada is what will move us forward.
Please note, if you or someone you know are in distress, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society operates a 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience at 1-866-925-4419.
Leadership at LDS have made personal donations to this nonprofit society and we invite any allies to do the same.