Statement of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples Grieving the 215 Indigenous Lives Lost at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty at UBC

The members of the UBC Task Force on Anti-racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE TF) solemnly acknowledge the discovery of unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

At this very difficult time, the ARIE TF stands in solidarity with Indigenous members of the UBC community, Indigenous peoples in unceded Indigenous territories spanning (current-day) BC, particularly the Elder survivors, their families, and communities on the lands of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) (Kamloops), Nlaka’pamux (Thompson), the Syilx Okanagan Nation (Okanagan), and the St’at’imc (Lillooet) Peoples and indeed, Indigenous people all across the land.

We recognize the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ need to individually and collectively process this tragedy. We realize that this news affects individuals and communities deeply and differently due to  communal, social, political, cultural, and intergenerational factors and contexts and we therefore acknowledge the many diverse individual, familial, and community responses. In solidarity and support, we amplify the Syilx Okanagan Nation Alliance’s statement here (PDF), and an article by the Musqueam Indian Band here.

We are also mindful of and sensitive to the on-going process transpiring at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, that according to established sources this is a preliminary finding, and that the conclusive report will be provided in the near future. As more information become publicly available, we are also reminded of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action (2015) regarding “Missing Children and Burial Information” (71-76), and “Commemoration” (79-83).

At UBC, the flags were lowered on both campuses in memory of the 215 children.

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre has issued a statement.

As we mark Indigenous History Month amidst such tragedy and grief, we call on the UBC community to engage with the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) to seek guidance. UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan was developed with the explicit mission “to guide UBC’s engagement with Indigenous peoples and its commitment to reconciliation, as articulated and called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada”.  Its eight goals and forty-three actions provide extremely valuable guidance for all of us to embrace.

In solemn and abiding solidarity;
The UBC Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence.