Colin Jones, FSA President; on behalf of the entire FSA board and office staff
We echo the statements being made by post-secondary institutes, including BCIT, and the labour movement through the BC Federation of Labour about the horrifying and heartbreaking uncovering of the mass grave at the former Kamloops Residential School.
Our hearts break for each and every child who died, for their loved ones from whom they were taken, and for every Indigenous person still living with the ongoing harm perpetrated by the residential schooling system and the ways in which it continues to be reflected in our social, political, and justice systems.
This mass grave, unfortunately likely not the only one, is further proof that residential schools were not in fact schools. As a union that represents educators we must all reflect upon the abusive and violent realities of what these “schools” were for so many children. As Daniel Heath Justice, a scholar and educator, has so aptly stated: “Part of what makes even a lot of thoughtful people stumble in understanding the residential school system as the profoundly abusive system it was is the fact that these sites were called ‘schools’”.
We urge our members to take the time to read the statements from Chief Rosanne Casimir (Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7) and to review the findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially the Calls to Actions focused on education.
The BCITFSA has made a donation to the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society on behalf of the membership. If you would like to join us, click here.
We further encourage folks to listen to the many members of Indigenous communities where we live and work who are so generously sharing with us what this traumatic finding means to them and what concrete and crucial actions should be taken by governments, institutions, organizations, and individuals to continue learning the truth of the residential schooling system and to take action to support true and meaningful reconciliation and repair. This is a time to follow their lead.
Support and counselling is always available for BCIT staff and faculty through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) by calling 1-800-387-4765 or by visiting the Homewood Health website.
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is also available to offer 24/7 support to former residential school students and those affected. Please call 1-866-925-4419.Leave a reply →