Flags at all schools and buildings in the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district will be at half mast until further notice to acknowledge the discovery of children’s remains at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.
The remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered last week in unmarked graves using ground-penetrating radar – a discovery confirmed by the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation.
Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest school in Canada’s Indian Affairs residential school system.
“The discovery speaks of unimaginable horror and deep loss,” said school board chair Korleen Carreras and schools superintendent Harry Dhillon, in a letter to district families and staff.
“It is a painful reminder of the profound, lasting harms on Indigenous communities, and of the heartbreaking and ongoing intergenerational trauma suffered by Indigenous families,” they noted.
The school district is also asking staff and students to wear orange throughout the week out of respect.
“To honour the lives of the children who were lost and to demonstrate that every child matters,” read the letter.
From 1863 to 1998, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools, explained Carreras and Dhillon.
The pair noted the school district is committed to ensuring all our students understand the cruel history and legacy of residential schools and that they will continue to work with First Peoples communities to ensure they are doing everything they can to provide Indigenous students and families with the supports they need.
“The tragic legacy of these schools will continue to haunt Canadian communities and impact Indigenous families,” said Carreras and Dhillon, noting that June is National Indigenous History Month, when people celebrate the history, culture and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples across the country.
“Even as we celebrate, let us also take the time to acknowledge the deep losses and lasting impacts suffered by Indigenous communities of Canada,” they wrote.
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