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Statement regarding the Indian Residential School System

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June 2/2021

Warning: Sensitive information regarding the Indian Residential School System

At this time of immense grieving and loss for Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, we at the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) extend our sincerest condolences to Indian Residential School Survivors, their families and communities. The recent devastating news of the discovery of 215 bodies of children in unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops is heart-breaking. It has also rekindled Indigenous demands for justice and action.

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths. Some were as young as three years old. We sought a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.” - The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief, Rosanne Casimir, Thursday, May 27, 2021.

UNA-Canada acknowledges that all non-Indigenous peoples in Canada have a responsibility to understand, as well as increase awareness and knowledge of the tragic history of the Residential School System, a grave reminder of Canada’s colonial history. We are dedicated to upholding, and raising awareness on, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada signed in 2016. This Declaration , adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, was motivated by “the need to correct a shameful record of historical and ongoing violence and abuse suffered by Indigenous individuals and populations around the world”.

We are equally dedicated to continuing the very important, crucial, and ongoing work of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and individuals within Canada. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action (TRC) offers Canadian a framework for understanding, embracing, and taking steps to redress the history of injustices against Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

For those needing support at this time, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.

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