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PAGC’s response to the residential school burial site in Tk’emlups te Secwépemc

Treaty 5, 6, 8 & 10 Territory. In response to the discovery of remains of 215 children discovered on the grounds near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia, the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) held a prayer vigil to show support to the community and others affected by the Indian Residential Schools in PAGC’s communities. PAGC is also supporting the efforts by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to research undocumented deaths and burials throughout Saskatchewan, and calling on Canada to recognize the abuse of 2,000 students who attended the Timber Bay residential school.

“Our Elders, Senators, Chiefs, community members, and survivors of the Indian Residential School are mourning with the people of Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the children and the community deep in mourning, and we support the Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir and her council in their efforts to bring out the full truth of what happened to their children and to find healing,” said Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.

In a show of support and unity, PAGC held a prayer vigil and flew its flag at half mast to honour and show respect to the children and the surviving family members.

“We weep for the 215 innocent children who would never see their mothers before they died. The level of disrespect for human life is unfathomable. This is compounded by the fact that these were innocent children. This cannot be written off as the times were different back then. We weep for the children we could not protect. We weep for the families who never knew where the children taken from them disappeared to. We weep because this new chapter in our children and families’ lives only compounds the terrible legacy that already exists. We weep because it will take such a revelation to wake up Canada to understand the genocide of our children,” said Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.

PAGC also supports FSIN’s plan to conduct radar ground searches at residential school sites, including the former schools in Prince Albert, Sturgeon Landing, La Ronge and Timber Bay.

“This news hits close to home, and serves as a reminder that our people and communities need to find closure. This means that we can not rest until we know that the search for the children who never returned home is conducted at the site of each Indian Residential School in our communities. We call on all levels of our government to support these efforts as similar testimonies have spoken of the same unspeakable losses happening here,” said Grand Chief Hardlotte.

“It is also time that this government recognizes 2,000 of the former students of the Timber Bay School that operated between 1952 and 1994. Like so many of the children who never returned home, Bobby Bird was just one of many undocumented deaths that resulted from the schools. There are many dark chapters that have yet to come to light, and it’s essential that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action ensure that the lives lost and the survivors are all acknowledged,” said Grand Chief Hardlotte.