Members of the public are invited to lay shoes, flowers and other memorial items at the Katzie First Nation Flag in Spirit Square, next to Pitt Meadows City Hall. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Members of the public are invited to lay shoes, flowers and other memorial items at the Katzie First Nation Flag in Spirit Square, next to Pitt Meadows City Hall. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Katzie First Nation offers statement after residential school graves found

Katzie will take part in day of mourning, remembrance in Maple Ridge on Sunday

The council of the Katzie First Nation has offered a statement after the discovery last week of 215 buried children at the former Kamloops Residential School.

“The Katzie First Nation is beyond words regarding the discovery unearthed in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory at the former Kamloops Residential School. We express our anguish as we process this horrific unearthing,” said the letter, which was released on Friday.

“As the darkness of Canadian history is revealed, we grieve with all others. It is truly a time of mourning and we feel the collective heartache. This genocide will continue to unfold, as this is only one school out of an approximate 139 in Canada. We have a long road ahead.

”Like all other First Nation communities in this country, this tragic truth is all too familiar to us. Our community has been impacted with this dark legacy. As it is brought to light, we are feeling the significant impact of Canada’s residential school system and we are doing all we can to endure this painful time.

“It is time to mourn, sing our songs, pray in our way, use our love to pick each other up and our compassion to hold each other up.”

The statement came as the Katzie Chief Grace George and other band members prepare to take part in a ceremony of mourning and remembrance in Maple Ridge on Sunday afternoon. The band has lands in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Langley and on Barnston Island.

READ ALSO: ‘No road map’ for grieving, healing work after B.C. residential school finding: Chief

READ ALSO: Trudeau calls on Catholic Church to take responsibility for residential schools

The statement continues:

“Katzie leadership remains dedicated to addressing the unjust and systematic racism that plagues our people today. The oppressive system that allowed the residential schools to exist for as long as they did remains active and alive. We have had many people ask what they can do? We ask for you to support us in carrying these truths forward, we have been carrying this darkness on our own for far too long. The time to create change has arrived, the time to educate yourself about these undeniable truths has arrived.

“We stand with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation and all those who attended, who suffered loses, and for the 215 souls set free from the former Kamloops Residential School.

“We will have continued prayers for the all of the survivors of the residential school systems on turtle island (North America). We send our prayers to. I ask you to join us in wrapping a blanket of love, honour, and prayer around them all in the days and years to come – we see you, we have always heard you, and we will continue to carry your truth.”

It is signed by George and Councillors Lisa Adams, Rick Bailey, and David Kenworthy.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows mourn residential school tragedy

The event, called “a day to recognize, remember and mourn” will be held on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. in Memorial Peace Park, in Maple Ridge.

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