By Melissa Mbarki, June 7, 2021
News of the remains of 215 children found at a former residential school on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation opened old wounds in Indigenous communities across the country. We held vigils, shared our stories and we are mourning the loss of these children.
For most in the non-Indigenous community, having their three-year-old child or grandchild forcibly removed from their home has not been a regular part of life. The Kamloops discovery brought up many questions about the purpose of these schools. It also prompted a different conversation about how little is taught in our current school system and the importance of knowing our history through an Indigenous lens.
One question that everyone is asking: Who was responsible for residential schools? In the last century, every government since 1883 was complacent and did nothing to investigate reports of abuse or initiate the closure of residential schools. Are we creating a villain and cancelling John A. Macdonald because we need someone to blame?
One comment has really stood out for me. “Maybe this (residential schools) wasn’t a chapter; it was the whole damn book.” Every social issue happening in Indigenous communities today is a result of residential schools. When asked what we needed to address these issues, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada captured this clearly in its 94 calls to actions.
Since 2015, none of these calls were implemented by the Government of Canada.