It is hard to learn of the recent discovies of bodies in unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools (IRS) in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. A lot of deep, painful feelings and memories have risen to the surface for many. As an Indigenous community we know there are still many more unmarked child graves of former IRS residents to be found.
June is National Indigenous History Month. Our histories have once again surfaced to remind us of the tragedies we faced and still face as Indigenous peoples, along with the deep, lingering trauma and impacts we continue to combat with every day. Healing is critical!
After the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops IRS, Medicine Bear Lodge Daycare staff gave a teaching about the children who were murdered, physically hurt, and denied nourishment, love and respect. They spoke of how those children – and many, many more – were forcibly removed from their parents, aunties, kookums, and mooshums, and taken to places like the Kamloops IRS. The children understood the idea of honouring and, along with Ka Ni Kanichihk staff, placed 215 orange ties on Ka Ni Kanichihk’s fence and offered tobacco so those who died may know we are thinking of them.
For the Lost Children
May we gather as one to start a new stream,
Tears from our hearts for so many it seems,
Taken from parents by force and deception,
Only to be abused, molested and neglected.
Tortured and beaten for speaking their tongue,
Who on this earth would approve of what has been done?
Placed in a hole, unmarked and alone,
To family and friends their fate was unknown.
The church and the government of the time, are to blame,
For stripping them of their culture and cutting their manes.
May our stream flow gentle, steady and true,
Filled with love and respect, those children are due,
And guide us to the wisdom we have lacked and still do.
That the taking of children from their clans and their race,
Should end with great haste.
Poem written by Marc Dorge
If you feel you would like support at this time, please reach out to a friend, family member, Elder or Crisis Health Service provider. You can access services at Winnipeg Mobile Crisis Services 204-940-1781, Klinic Crisis Line 1-888-322-3019 or the National Indian Residential School Crisis toll-free line at 1-866-925-4419.
You can ensure Indigenous people continue to heal, learn and connect at Ka Ni Kanichihk. Please consider donating, here kanikanichihk.ca/donate/ or by calling (204) 953-5820. Thank you!