British Columbia Premier John Horgan says he is “horrified and heartbroken” to learn of the discovery of a burial site with 215 children on the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation says new ground-penetrating technology was able to show the remains of the children, whose deaths are believed to be undocumented but are known within the community.
Horgan says the discovery is a tragedy of “unimaginable proportions” and highlights the violence and consequences of the residential school system.
The head of the First Nations Health Authority says it will be providing mental health and trauma support to community members as the search continues.
Richard Jock, the authority’s CEO, says COVID-19 has made it difficult for people to gather and mourn the news.
He says the legacy of colonialism leads to modern-day trauma and health issues in Indigenous communities.
“This particular event may be seen as historical but it’s also a continuous trend I would say of this power imbalance if you would, that creates these issues for First Nations people.”
B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth made a brief statement Friday about the discovery at the former residential school at a news conference on a separate announcement.
“I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc people who are dealing with the continuing tragedy and impact of the residential school system and the dark chapter that is in their nation’s history and our nation’s history and our thoughts are with them today.”
The B.C. society of Indian Residential School Survivors is offering toll-free telephone support for survivors at 1-800-721-0066.
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