June 1, 2021 — Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish)/West Vancouver, BC
Following the discovery of the burial site of 215 children whose lives were lost at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), First Nations Schools Association (FNSA), and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all the impacted communities and families in mourning.
As we mourn the loss of children who died at residential schools we must also commit to concrete action for a better future for First Nations children and youth. Our children must receive an education that respects their identities, languages, and cultures, free from racism and oppression. We must also work to fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Honouring the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system means ensuring that all learners understand its present-day consequences. This legacy must form a core component of BC’s K-12 curriculum through post-secondary, alongside the histories, cultures, and voices of First Nations peoples.
Governments, educators, and education partners play a critical role in transforming our society. Working with First Nations, educators, and residential school survivors, FNESC and FNSA developed the Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Teacher Resource Guides, available at www.fnesc.ca/irsr/. We hope these resources will assist schools engaging their students in necessary and important conversations in recognition of this tragic news.
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Thane BonarDirector of Communications and PolicyFirst Nations Education Steering Committee