BC Teachers’ Federation on discovery of 715 unmarked graves at former Marieval Residential School

BC Teachers’ Federation President Teri Mooring has issued the following statement on discovery of 715 unmarked graves at former Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan:

“Our hearts and deep condolences go out to the Cowessess First Nation, as well as all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples today following the announcement of up to 715 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan. Yet again, ground penetrating radar is confirming the oral accounts that have been shared within and amongst Indigenous communities for generations.

“Marieval Residential School was only one of 18 residential schools in Saskatchewan. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigation turned up a total of 566 recorded deaths (both named and unnamed) throughout all of Saskatchewan—149 fewer than the number of unmarked graves announced today at this single institution. We must prepare ourselves for the likelihood that the original number of 4,200 reported deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools will soon become a much larger number.

“Wearing our Every Child Matters shirts is one way of showing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis teachers, staff, and students that we are standing with them—but it’s nowhere close to enough. Advancing reconciliation requires a deep commitment from us as educators to listen and to learn.

“Advancing reconciliation also requires a commitment from the government to provide the training required to not only ensure we are all equipped to bring these truths into our classrooms, but to do so through a trauma-informed lens. This is why we are continuing to advocate strongly for skills-based in-service training on both intercultural competency and antiracism, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action # 57, and training for using a trauma-informed lens for all K–12 teachers, administrators, and support staff throughout BC.

“To all BCTF members who identify as First Nations, Inuit, and Métis: culturally safe and appropriate support is available to you 24/7:

“* KUU-US Crisis Line—toll-free at 1-800-588-8717, Youth Line at 250-723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250-723-4050.

“* The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

“We acknowledge that you and your families are hurting deeply. Please know that we remain open to any suggestions or feedback for how we as a Federation can support you in meaningful ways.”