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This page was prepared by Michaela Vendiola, Tribal Liaison for North Sound ACH. Please reach out to Michaela Vendiola if you want more resources or connections. Updated June 24, 2021.

This blog post will be updated continuously to provide ACH partners and contacts with up-to-date news regarding statuses and developments that relate to the Indian Residential Schools that span across the continent of North America. This blog post will house current events, news, and resources from both the United States and Canada. This is an important and distinct decision to include news and resources from both countries because, uniquely, there are tribal members and families with dual citizenship status that reside within the North Sound region and who may be directly impacted by this news and findings on both sides of the U.S./Canadian Border. 

Indian Residential School Survivors Society
FAQs / How do I reach the 24 Hour Crisis Line?
Indian Residential School Survivors and Family
1-866-925-4419
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.For more information on the program, please refer to the FNHA website.

RESOURCES and NEWS – From Native, Indigenous, First Nations, American Indian/Alaska Native news sources:

751 unmarked graves is ‘a wake up call’ | UPDATED: Cowessess First Nation announced discovery of gravesite at old residential school in Canada; ‘We will not stop until we find all the bodies’. Indian Country Today. June 24, 2021.

Interior Sec. Haaland Announces Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to Shed Light on the Dark History of the Boarding School System. Native News Online. June 22, 2021.

Indian Country Applauds Interior Sec. Haaland’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. Native News Online. June 22, 2021.

RESOURCES – From North Sound region Natives:

Walking our Spirits Home event. Children of the Setting Sun Productions. Friday June 11, 2021. 11 a.m. at the Lummi Stommish Grounds on the Lummi Indian Reservation.

This event had representation and speakers from Lummi Nation, Nooksack Nation, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, many other tribal nations and multiple families and friends from across the North Sound region and beyond the region. At this event, attendees also heard (by phone at minute 36:10) from one of the Secwépemc Chiefs of the Interior-Salish Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation. Today, there are 17 remaining bands that make up the Secwepemc Nation. Three of those bands are: Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, Sexqeltqin (Adams Lake) and, Kamloops.

215 Stand in Solidarity event. Friday June 4, 2021 at 5 p.m. at the mainstreet bridge in Ferndale, WA. Lhaq’temish Foundation was a sponsor of this event. 

RESOURCES: from the ACH June Tribal Learning Series

June Partner Learning Session – June 16, 2021. Healing Dialogue: Stepping out of the wheel of suffering and inducing our truth. Holding Space with Solana Booth. (Recording)

Protecting our Women, Protecting our Earth – Aug. 27, 2019. A discussion between Hester Dillon and Victoria Sweet of the NOVO Foundation, Solana Booth, Carmenza de Columbia, Aline Prata and Isabella James of Children of the Setting Sun Productions. Interview took place at the 2019 Paddle to Lummi Canoe Journey. (Video by Children of the Setting Sun Productions)

Children of the Setting Sun Productions is having a land acknowledgment ceremony with PeaceHealth on San Juan Island on June 22nd, and in Bellingham July 14th, both at noon.

RESOURCES – Additional resources for context purposes:

American Indian Boarding Schools by State

Source: The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
“367 Schools. 73 remain open today. 15 still boarding.” (2020).

US Indian Boarding School History. National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

“The truth about the US Indian boarding school policy has largely been written out of the history books. There were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Indian Boarding schools across the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. Indian children were forcibly abducted by government agents, sent to schools hundreds of miles away, and beaten, starved, or otherwise abused when they spoke their native languages.”

Standing Bear Nation artwork. By Kent Monkman, Cree Nation. May 24, 2021.

Visual Content Warning re: Kidnapping.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports from the The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba, Canada.

RESOURCES – about the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Facts:

  • Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc is the what the First Nations people call themselves. But the Canadian Government calls the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc the Kamloops Indian Band.
  • Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc lands are located 203 miles northeast of Bellingham, WA. Driving to Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc would be less than a days travel from Bellingham, WA and would be a drive of 3 hours and 42 minutes.
  • Kamloops Indian Residential School is also a 203 mile drive from Bellingham, WA.
google.com/maps

RESOURCES – From the Tk’emlúps website:

Remains of Children of Kamloops Residential School Discovered. Press Release from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir. Posted on: May 27, 2021.

“May 27, 2021, Kamloops – It is with a heavy heart that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir confirms an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

May 31, 2021 | Statement from the Office of the Chief, Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. Press Release from the office of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir. Posted on: May 31, 2021.

“As the last logs go on our sacred fire, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of support to our community. Thank you for helping us bring to light such hard truths that came from the preliminary findings regarding the unmarked burial sites of Kamloops Indian Residential School students so that we may begin the process of honouring the lost loved ones who are in our caretaking. We love, honour, and respect these children, their families, and communities.”

June 10 | Full C&C Update on KIRS. Posted on: June 14, 2021. From the Office of the Chief –

“On behalf of Council, I want to provide you an update on what Council has been doing to follow up on the recent, heartbreaking findings at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This was but the beginning of what will be a long and emotionally challenging process. Chief and Council are committed to providing regular updates to our membership.

For Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Council and I, as well as what we have heard in community, ceremonies, protocols, and justice are top of mind for all. This is only the beginning.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the grief that we have all felt. This is traumatic and each and every one of us have been impacted by residential schools. It is time to be gentle with ourselves as this brings up so many emotions and hurts. I know that I am reaching out to my loved ones and encourage you to do the same. Please note that we have included mental health supports at the end of this letter.”

Kukwstép-kucw— Walking the Spirits Home. Posted on: June 16, 2021.

“Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc Council and members would like to say kukwstép-kucw to Adams Lake Band for the “Walking the Spirits Home” ceremony that took place from June 11 to 13 2021.  We want to also acknowledge and thank all the Elders, Knowledge keepers, survivors, intergenerational survivors, the Kukukpi7 and our K̓wséltkten from throughout Secwepemcúl’ecw that came together in unity and solidarity to support the survivors and the lost children in bringing their spirits home.

We are collectively grieving and this is one step towards reconciliation and healing. The truths of the survivors and the lost children are finally being heard by so many.

In light of the preliminary findings regarding the unmarked burial site of 215 children from the Kamloops Residential School, it is fitting that the healing journey started here, at the home campfire of the residential school.

Kukpi7 Arnouse and to your leadership, and all those who helped organize “Walking our Spirits Home”, we at TteS want to acknowledge the continued work that you and your campfire have done to bring healing to your community. We were honoured to assist with protocols, resources, and support.”

Tk’emlúps History

Kamloops Indian Band promotional video Part #1. From the Tk’emlúps website and youtube. Note the discussion that begins at minute 4:25 as these previous treaty allotments and continued government-to-government discussions (as seen in this video) may have an impact on the ways in which the Canadian government can begin making action based accountability; especially since accountability is what is directly being asked of them from the First Nations leadership and people of the area.

RESOURCES – From Native, Indigenous, First Nations, American Indian/Alaska Native news sources:

Indian Country Today

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald and the Chiefs of Ontario mourn the loss of the 215 children lost at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Indian Country Today. June 1, 2021.

“This was not just a “dark chapter” in Canadian history; this is genocide against Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island.”

Canada: Bodies at residential school not isolated incident. Indian Country Today. May 31, 2021.

“Shoes sit on the Eternal flame in recognition of discovery of children’s remains at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, on parliament hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday May 31, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society.”

215 bodies found at residential school in Canada. Indian Country Today. May 29, 2021.

“The former Kamloops Indian Residential School is seen on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The remains of 215 children have been found buried on the site of the former residential school in Kamloops. (Andrew Snucins/The Canadian Press via AP). More bodies may be found because there are more areas to search on the school grounds.”

Native News Online

The Appalling Discovery in Kamloops is Irrefutable Evidence of a Crime Against Humanity. Native News Online. June 1, 2021.

“The appalling discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children hidden in unmarked graves at the site of the residential school in Kamloops, B.C., is irrefutable evidence of a crime against humanity.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Band confirmed Thursday that ground-penetrating radar had detected the remains of the children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church.”

Remembering the 215 Indigenous Children Found in Unmarked Graves at Canadian Residential School. Native News Online. May 31, 2021.

“KAMLOOPS, B.C. — As people in the United States spent time this past weekend to remember those who gave their lives for their country while serving in the U.S. military, First Nations people and Native Americans across Indian Country paid tribute to the loss of 215 children,  whose remains were recently discovered at the site of a former residential school near the town of Kamloops, British Colombia.

A Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation (Kamloops Indian Band) news release last Thursday revealed the horrifying news that the remains of 215 children, some as young as three-year-old, were uncovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

RESOURCES – From non-Native news source in the Kamloops area:

Kamloops This Week

Tk’emlups says Canada needs to add accountability to messages of sympathy. Kamloops This Week. May 31, 2021.

“Chief Rosanne Casimir said the Tk’emlups community is also asking all Canadians to reacquaint themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and Calls to Action and to show solidarity by wearing an orange shirt and starting conversations with neighbours about why they are doing so.”

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