BC Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands Adam Olsen reacts after hearing the latest poll numbers come in as he waits to be interviewed at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort in Victoria, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. must do more for Indigenous reconciliation after residential school deaths: First Nation MLA

The bodies of 215 children were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops residential school

“What we’re doing is not enough,” MLA Adam Olsen told fellow members of the B.C. Legislature during an emotional speech Monday – less than a week after the discovery of a mass grave on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Tk​’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the former residential school Thursday (May 27), which housed as many as 500 children at a time.

Olsen, who is the representative for Saanich North and the Islands and a member of the Tsartlip First Nation, told the legislature of the trauma faced by his family and many others forced into residential schools from the 1880s to the 1990s.

“Like many of my peers, my grandparents, my great aunties and uncles are survivors of Kuper Island Residential School,” he said. “I know that they’d want me here today. Honouring the horrors that they lived through by demanding accountability for them.”

READ MORE: Petition calls for day of mourning for children found buried at former B.C. residential school

The Kuper Island Residential School, which was location on Kuper Island near Chemainus, opened in 1889 and was run by the Catholic Church until 1969, when it was taken over by the federal government. It was fully closed in 1975.

“For 30 years, my relatives have been sharing their experiences from these despicable institutions. For 30 years, those stories have been hushed,” Olsen said.

“This story is not shocking, nor is it unimaginable… the only reason to call it unimaginable would be because these institutions, these crown governments, federal and provincial governments, people that populate these chambers in the past either haven’t been listening to our stories, or they’ve cared less. Because it is a reality in our country, that some children have mattered less.”

ALSO READ: Residential school survivor calling for Canada-wide search of sites after remains of 215 children found

Olsen added that while residential schools, the last of which closed its doors in 1996, may be in the past, Indigenous Peoples are still subject treatment not seen in other groups.

“I wish I could say that indigenous children are no longer forcibly removed from their communities. However, I can’t,” he said. “I wish I could say that Indigenous People were not dramatically over-represented in fatalities at the hands of police, the criminal justice system, homelessness, suicide, addictions and drug poisonings – all statistics you don’t want to ever be over-represented in.”

Olsen called on the B.C. government to take responsibility for actions by provincial governments in the past and to make counselling and mental health care available immediately to survivors and their families, as well as programs to restore Indigenous languages, culture and governance.

“This is indeed a heavy burden. But it’s one we can make all lighter if we carry it together.”

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. Alternately, you can reach out the KUU-US Crisis Line Society 24-hour line at 1-800-588-8717.

READ MORE: B.C. premier ‘horrified’ at discovery of remains at Kamloops residential school site


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureIndigenousJohn Horganresidential schools

Just Posted

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read