AS Indigenous communities and Canadians coast-to-coast mourn the discovery of 215 dead children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) on Tuesday called for decisive action from the federal government.
“We’ve clearly heard from Indigenous communities that they’ve known all along that many more children died than had been reported, and the federal government must take responsibility for continuing to uncover the truth. There can be no reconciliation without truth,” said Teri Mooring, BCTF President. “The responsibility of searching for these missing children should never have fallen upon the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc people. Canada can and must do better.”
Specifically, the BCTF is calling for the Government of Canada to:
- declare a national period of mourning following last week’s discovery at Kamloops Indian Residential School.
- commit to working with all Indigenous communities throughout Canada wishing to conduct ground radar surveys of former Indian Residential Schools within their territories.
- provide adequate funding and resources to make possible the work of identifying additional unmarked grave sites and conducting the cultural protocols appropriate within each respective community.
- provide a detailed report to Canadians on the status of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action numbers 71–76 (“Missing Children and Burial Information”).
“Words are empty without action. Another statement from a politician isn’t what these communities need right now,” said Mooring. “Indigenous communities are demanding action, and we are deeply committed to supporting and amplifying those calls.”
The BCTF urges educators and others in the Canadian labour movement to join it in applying pressure for decisive action in these areas.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action are available at: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf