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Mourning the loss of 215 children

June 02, 2021

This week we learned about the tragic discovery of unmarked graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. I reach out to you with the deepest sense of anguish and grief, sorrow and anger about this tragedy, and its devastating impact on the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and other Indigenous Nations across our province, indeed on all of us, but especially our Indigenous students, staff and faculty who may be experiencing deep grief.

As settlers, we have a shameful history of colonization and genocide. At the ceremony this afternoon in front of our library, two statements echo our profound, and shared feelings: ‘We can no longer hide from the truth.’ And, ‘We have to know the history of all of the children who lived in residential schools. We have to know their history and learn their names.’ This is an essential part of our pathway forwards to healing.

The work of reconciliation and decolonization looks different for each person, but it starts with listening and bearing witness to the truth. Non-Indigenous people must work to educate themselves, and reflect critically on their positionality, responsibilities, and obligations to the land and the communities of those who have lived on, and cared for the land since time immemorial.

The Faculty of Social Sciences encourages and supports UVic and all educational institutions and individuals to acknowledge and address our role in perpetuating colonial systems, and to remain committed to truth and reconciliation. We must all do our part to enact change, and to address the ongoing processes of colonization in Canada and the world.

We encourage everyone to reach out to those in your family and community who are affected by this news to seek support, and also to offer support to one another when possible. Over the coming weeks, you may also benefit from the resources for all staff, faculty and students.

For those who wish to or need to access Indigenous counselling, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society provides services and can be reached at 1-800-721-0066.

Please contact our office if you have any concerns or questions as we work together to address injustices and move forward in reconciliation.

With respect,

Denise Cloutier

Acting Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences

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