May 31, 2021
We must remember the children
In the past few days we have all learned of a mass burial at a residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia. Children as young as three years old have been buried there. We are hearing the sorrow of many Canadians. They are experiencing the deep feeling Indigenous families and communities have been addressing for generations. Elders, parents, people everywhere are in mourning. Sadly, the discovery of this burial site is not unexpected. Many of us have spoken of such atrocities over the years. First Nation communities in many places have known and spoken of such sites. By coming to know these feelings, this atrocity and the history behind it, many of us hope we will move to transforming our journey together.
June is National Indigenous History Month. The University of Calgary has made a commitment to change. Through our Indigenous strategy ii’ taa’poh’to’p we have tasked ourselves at all levels to learn of this painful history. We are addressing how and what we teach. We are taking on the responsibility to change our policies impacting Indigenous people. We are working with Indigenous students, staff, scholars, and community members. Indigenous History Month is an opportunity to learn; it is also an opportunity for each person, each unit of the university to add to the actions we have initiated. Reconciliation is about coming to know how to act, as an institution, units within, and people.
Elder-in-Residence Reg Crowshoe and I agree we must remember the children. Never forget the feelings we have and see in others, take and create opportunities to learn and teach about Indigenous histories, and enact transformation within ourselves individually, our units, and our institution. A parallel path means that we all take part in the journey and walk side by side. Let’s ensure the lives of the children have a greater meaning and touch us all.
Vice-Provost (Indigenous Engagement)
- Photo above: Vancouver memorial for 215 children whose remains were discovered at a Kamloops residential school. Photo by GoToVan published on Flickr under Creative Commons Licence
The First Nations Health Authority operates a 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line to provide support for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services are available in English and French by calling 1-866-925-4419.
Supports are also available to members of the university community through University of Calgary Student Wellness Services and Staff Wellness.