Honouring the 215 lives lost

June 01, 2021

Last Thursday, we received devastating news about the remains of 215 children found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Over the weekend, I’ve been thinking of the members of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, Indigenous communities we work closely with south of the Fraser, Indigenous faculty, staff and students at SFU and all the Indigenous communities across our province and our country.

My heart goes out as I think of all those who have suffered at the hands of the residential school system – those who lost a child, sister, brother, or friend, those who continue to be re-traumatized by unspeakable acts taken within a system of oppression and colonization. And what of those 215 children who never returned home? Who would they be today? What amazing contributions could they have made to their families and communities?

At this terrible moment of loss, I recognize that we all have a lot more learning to do at SFU; more work to do as a university community. These are not isolated incidences that are a part of the past. As we’ve seen, the identification of the remains of 215 children is part of ongoing trauma and pain that is still widely experienced by Indigenous people on a daily basis.

In her statement yesterday, President Joy Johnson noted a number of supports and resources that are available to the SFU community. Especially during this time, please take care of yourselves and one another, and seek out the support you need.

Today marks the beginning of National Indigenous History Month. Let us use this month to keep the conversations going, while also recognizing the work must continue throughout the whole year.

I stand with the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities here in Surrey and across our country during this difficult time.