Posted:18 June 2021
Author: Lori St.Cyr, Community Learning Network
Found in: Cultural Competencies
As National Indigenous Peoples Day has been approaching, my heart and soul has been mourning the discovery of the 215 children at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops. This tragedy reminds me that we as Canadians need to learn more, hear more and seek more. We are all affected by this tragedy. This is a part of our history, part of where we came from as a country.
How do we make sense of such senselessness? How do we support each other? How do we never let this happen again? What can we do to honour those that never came home, those that survived but never healed, those that are healing and the following generations that hold this blood memory in their very being? The effects of Residential Schools & colonization continues to plague the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
If you know a Metis, a First Nations person or Inuit person, that person (your friend/your colleague/a learner/a loved one) is likely a Residential School Survivor or a child/grandchild of a residential school survivor. I myself am the granddaughter of Residential school survivors. My grandparents went to Residential School, almost all of the Elders that I know and love are residential school survivors. Our very own Elder Dave Matilpi whom many of us know and care for is one of the many survivors of the Canadian Residential School system.
Since the truth telling, I have spoken with many Elders including Elder Dave. When I last spoke with Elder Dave he said he attended a ceremony to honour the 215 children, he said it was beautiful, there was drumming and singing. He told me he has had many calls of concern and love. He is in good spirits and will be attending more healing ceremonies, painting and drumming over the next few weeks.
The Elders that I have spoken to are also saying “The healing has begun and it will be a long journey”. I have heard them speak and tell their truths of their experiences in Residential schools. They speak of the hope that the children will be retuned to their families, there is hope that someone will be held accountable, and there is hope that the other residential schools are examined for unmarked graves. I hear them speak about forgiveness, compassion and living together in a good way.
If you have ever had the opportunity to sit with an Elder and they honour you with the sharing of their story, I ask you to remember them and their strength as we start to hear more about the children who were never returned and were lost for so many years. Those children can now rest as they are being sung home. You may ask yourself, how can a people continue to find strength, how can a nation continue to stand after a blow like this? I know how because we as Indigenous People are STRONG, we are RESILIENT, we will not be BROKEN. We find strength in our connections to each other, in our connections to Mother Earth, in our connections with our communities and our connections to you our allies.
Please remember that if you are feeling shame or guilt this is not your burden to carry.
If you would like to help:
I am available to chat, to listen, to sit in silence or to shed a tear. I available to support you if you feel the need to talk or if you have questions on how to support an Indigenous person.
Be kind to yourself,
CLN Metis & Indigenous Liaison