I write to you today with a heavy heart in light of last week’s heartbreaking discovery of the remains of Indigenous children at a former Kamloops Residential School. This is a devastating and painful time for Indigenous families and communities across our country. On behalf of our BCIT community, I extend my thoughts and prayers to the families, communities, residential school survivors, and all who mourn for the lives lost and their families. We acknowledge the importance of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (1996), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – and fully support the recommendations to move towards Reconciliation.
Teachers all across BC will be wearing orange this week in memory of the lives lost in this tragedy. The loss of children’s lives to the residential schools system must be acknowledged and grieved. We – as a nation – must also acknowledge the truth and true history of Canada, together and in partnership with Indigenous people and communities.
At BCIT, we will continue to act on our responsibility to foster Indigenous awareness amongst our faculty, staff, and students while promoting a culture of respect and collaboration as we work together to honour the place and space of Indigenous people. Our Indigenous Vision continues to represent BCIT’s deep and ongoing commitment to sustainable actions that build awareness and understanding around Truth, Reconciliation, Indigenization, the legacy of Colonization, and the contemporary reality of Canada and Indigenous people.
All flags across BCIT campuses are now lowered to half-mast to honour the lives and memories of these children and their families. We will continue with intentional actions even after the flags are raised to ensure that we do our part to remove systematic barriers and racism. We will be guided by our Indigenous Vision and the Indigenous Team at BCIT.
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is also available to offer 24/7 support to former residential school students and those affected. Please call 1-866-925-4419.
Counselling services for students are available virtually or by phone. The Province of BC’s Here2Talk Program is also available to connect students with mental health supports. As well, BCIT Mental Health at Home offers tips and resources to help with some of the feelings experienced.
Please take a moment to light a candle, say a prayer, or have a minute of silence in remembrance of the lives that were taken. Be well, give yourself space for this ongoing tragedy and healing, and take care of one another.