Canadians are shocked and saddened by the discovery last week of the remains of 215 children buried on the site of the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, located within the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc.
The offices of the First Nations Tax Commission are just a few hundred meters from this tragic grave site. I am certain this will now become a forensic investigation.
This school was under Roman Catholic administration from 1890 until 1969. In the 1950’s attendance peaked at 500 students. I attended this school, as did my parents, many of my relatives, and life-long friends.
Over the years, we had heard rumors of unmarked graves on the reserve and were misled to believe that the children had simply run away. These children would have been from my community and over 20 other communities representing five nations – the Secwepemc, Okanagan, Nlakapamux, St’at’imc and Tsilhqot’in.
This is a deeply personal matter for all of us. My community is in mourning and will grieve and honour these children. There are ceremonies taking place across the country and my heart is thankful for the care of these precious souls.
There are many questions that have long gone unanswered, and we hope that this will now change. Our prayers and thoughts are with the spirits of the young ones, the families affected by this tragedy, as well as other survivors of the residential school system.
C.T. (Manny) Jules
First Nations Tax Commission