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Mourning the 215 Children Found at Kamloops Residential School

updated June 24, 2021:  there are ongoing discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools across Turtle Island, including 751 found on June 23 by the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society 24-hour crisis line is 1 (866) 925-4419. We encourage non-Indigenous allies to read the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and donate to any organizations or mutual-aid funds in their communities.

On May 28, 2021, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops (Tk’emlups) Residential School. This devastating discovery has brought a wave of grief and trauma that has swept through our nations. 

carya stands with the Secwépemc people, Indian Residential School Survivors, their families and their communities as they process this tragic loss. We are holding space for and joining you in grief for the 215 children found, and those who have not returned home. 

As a primarily white-led organization that seeks to support vulnerable populations in Mohkinstsis (Calgary), we acknowledge the privilege and power we hold. Our collective grief in the wake of this tragedy pales in comparison to what our Indigenous communities are experiencing, and we encourage anyone who is able to donate to The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (https://www.irsss.ca/donate) and Reconciliation Canada (https://reconciliationcanada.ca/get-involved/donate) 

Our purpose for 110 years has been to help strengthen families with a core commitment to the values of kinship, the healthy functioning of the family unit, and to giving every child the opportunity to flourish. Over the course of this 110-year history, not all children and families have been viewed with the same worthiness of our support and investment. We acknowledge our complicity as a settler agency in the devastating failure to protect and strengthen the familial bonds of thousands of Indigenous people in Canada and that we stood by as children were torn from their families, cultures and lives destroyed, and many children denied the opportunity at life and prosperity to which we have avowed ourselves. We do not shy away from this part of our history, and we will continue to prioritize improving our support of Indigenous families, youth and individuals, and elevating the voices of others.  

Internally we have been unlearning and relearning as an organization through seminars and training, including Intercultural Humility & Relational Learning with Dr. Gabrielle Lindstrom, to ensure our staff are better equipped to respond to and support the needs of Indigenous clients and communities. While our mental health, grief, and counselling services are available to all Calgarians, we will seek out more effective ways to reach and support Indigenous communities in the future. 

In this moment of collective despair, we recommit ourselves to our vision of strengthening ALL families and to building a community where #everychildmatters.

More Resources:
Truth And Reconciliation Commission Calls To Action

 Address the ongoing impact of residential schools on survivors and their families. They provide a path for government and Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to create a joint vision of reconciliation.

Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary

Removing barriers and empowering urban Indigenous communities through cultural reconnection, programs, services and access to resources that address the social and economic realities Indigenous peoples.

Bear Clan Patrol Calgary

Protecting the women, children, elderly and vulnerable community members in Mohkinstsis (Calgary) and Treaty 7 communities. Regular updates on vigils, fundraising initiatives and ways to support.