Brace yourself, says Splatsin and Secwépemc Tribal Chief Wayne Christian.
In the wake of the grisly discoveries of 215-plus unmarked graves in Kamloops and another 751 in Saskatchewan, the ’60s Scoop survivor said it’s important for the public — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — to be prepared for more discoveries.
“It’s such a shock and I feel so horrific for all of us,” Christian said.
“For those of you who attended the residential schools or were connected to it in some way, I want to ask you to think about the support you may need,” he said. “If you didn’t attend a residential school yourself, I want you to reach out to people in your community who did attend or might be impacted by it, and check-in with them.”
Christian said people can support each other by learning Canada’s history and listening to survivors’ stories.
“A lot of people still won’t talk about the horrors that took place in these so-called schools,” he said. “A lot of people will not believe that there are unmarked burials at these sites. There are many, many stories that our people heard and knew – these recent discoveries confirm what our oral histories taught us.”
He also said this a non-partisan issue.
“Canadians elect the governing body no matter what political party and Canadians need to hold their government accountable to act,” he said. “In the words of our ancestral Chiefs of 1910 – we need to stand each other up to be great and good.”
Splatsin has released a presentation on the Splatsin.ca website for members of the public interested in learning more about Secwépemc history and the residential school system.
Christian said by Knucwentwecw (Secwepemctsin for helping each other), learning the history and opening dialogue are crucial steps to take ahead of discovering more unmarked graves in the coming weeks and months across Canada.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access 24-hour, toll-free, and confidential crisis lines:
• KU-USS Crisis Line: 1-800-588-8717
• Indian Residential School Survivors Support Line: 1-866-925-441
Splatsin band members can access support by calling the Splatsin Health Centre to speak with a Mental Wellness Practitioner on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 250-838-9538.