In the wake of the heart wrenching news of the remains of the 215 children found at the site of what was the Kamloops Residential School, we reach out to you, our community, to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, as we grieve for these children and their families and ancestors. We acknowledge this as further evidence of a system so lacking in care and understanding of Indigenous peoples and worldviews that this horrific practice occurred and contributed to the genocide of Indigenous peoples in our communities, which continues as reflected by disproportionate harm to Indigenous peoples. Elevated suicide rates, incarceration rates, and violence, in particular towards Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2SA+ people and protectors of the environment, combine with substandard housing, inconsistent access to clean drinking water, and a child welfare system that has carried on the painful legacy of removal of Indigenous children from families and communities. We are horrified by the misguided actions of our colonizing ancestors, and also know that we are responsible for contributing to a more equitable, safe and healthy future for all people now.
At WHEAT, we commit to reviewing our own commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and we are calling on each one of you to do the same. As we are reflecting on the lives of the many Indigenous children lost while away from their parents and communities, we send our prayers and caring thoughts to bring any healing we can to the moment we are in here now. We commit with every ounce of our capacity, will, strength, and passion, to ensuring that we will uphold values of respect, caring and community-mindedness to ensure the well-being of children, and to amplify Indigenous worldviews that prioritize valuing All Our Relations including people, land, animals, and all life. As we believe in healing with our heARTs, we reach out with an invitation to create hearts, from Cindy Bearhead, Director of Reconciliation at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and Cindy Blackstock, Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
We can create with any art supplies we have on hand or to go out into nature and photograph a heart installation on the land. Creation of hearts is one way to reflect on the enormity of this heart wrenching news: to acknowledge the children whose lives were lost and to honor the crossing of the spirts of these young ones; to express our own sadness and outrage; and to be in solidarity with the grief of the families and communities directly impacted and with Indigenous peoples around Turtle Island. Simultaneously we can offer respect and acknowledgement for the powerful, meaningful and deeply rooted cultural traditions and kinship systems that Indigenous children were pulled from, when separated from their families, communities, and Ancestral lands. We welcome you to send an image of your heart to firstname.lastname@example.org where we will be compiling them into one community heart, which will be shared on social media, in addition to adding them to our online heArt Garden. We will be putting a call out for others do the same. With the building of this community heart, we encourage everyone to take this time to appreciate the children in your world and those you have been connected to throughout your lives. We are doing the same. We invite everyone to smile, hug, love, and care for our young ones, sending kind thoughts and prayers for each and every child, giving appreciation and recognition for the honour and privilege of caring for children in our lives, and reaffirming our communal commitment to do our best for them in all the ways we know how. #215children #bringthemhome #takethemhome #reconciliationisourwork In solidarity, Darci Adam, Director, WHEAT Institute Fyre Jean Graveline, RSW, RCAT, Lead Indigenous Programming, WHEAT Institute
Resources and services for Indigenous folks:
Indian Residential School Survivors Society Counselling Services
Survivors crisis line is open 24 hours a day & 7 days a week: 1-800-721-0066
The National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
If you’re a settler, here are some places where you can make a donation to support residential school survivors and their families:
If you’re a settler, here are some educational resources on residential schools:
Settlers Take Action resources compiled by the On Canada Project
Read about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its 94 Calls to Action.
Yellowhead Institute - Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
Find out whose traditional territory you live on. Visit the Native Land website.
Sign up for Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
Here's a petition we can all sign, started by North 99: https://north99.org/tell-the-catholic-church-to-release-residential-school-records-and-apologize/
Another petition started by Crystal Fafard in Saskatoon: