We are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the recent confirmation of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
And while we acknowledge the shock, horror, and grief of people living in Burnaby, we know that now is a time to elevate the voices of Indian Residential School survivors and their families, and take to heart what they have been telling us for decades, because they are not shocked.
They have spoken for years of lost family members and schoolmates, and of unmarked graves at the school sites. And they have collectively told us these stories during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which in turn told Canadians of these events in its final report in 2015.
With that report came 94 Calls to Action, each an appeal to mobilize governments, society and individuals to make concrete and long-lasting changes for the better. These Calls gave us a path forward to redress the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, and to advance Reconciliation across the country.
In 2016, the City of Burnaby started its own journey, and with the determined efforts of City staff, we have been moving forward. But we know we can and must do more to recognize and speak the Truths shared with us, and to act in ways which establish and maintain relationships with local First Nations and the Indigenous people living here.
We solemnly mark these 215 stolen lives today (May 31) with the lowering of the flags here at City Hall for 215 hours—one hour for each life. We take seriously their legacy, and that of other children lost in these schools.
We encourage the citizens of Burnaby to learn more about these events, by reading the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, by studying the 94 Calls to Action, and hopefully by finding meaningful ways to act and to support those called to act.
Burnaby City Council and City staff are here to listen, but more than that, to be accountable in honouring the memories of the children, and supporting survivors and their families by making much-needed changes to advance relationships with the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
City of Burnaby