To the University community:
It is with a heavy heart and much sadness that I call upon our Cape Breton University community to join me in sending our condolences to the families affected by the tragic discovery of more than 200 Indigenous children buried on the grounds of a Residential School in British Columbia.
On May 28, 2021, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered in a mass grave on the grounds of the Kamloops (Tk’emlups) Residential School. This devastating discovery resulted in a wave of grief and trauma that has swept through our nation. We must stand with the Secwépemc people, and all Indian Residential School survivors, their families and the rest of the Indigenous communities across our nation, as they process this tragic loss.
The Indian Residential Schools were operated by the Christian Churches and the federal Department of Indian Affairs from the 1870s until 1978. The last residential school operated by the Canadian government, Gordon Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, was closed in 1996. There were 139 schools across Canada, and it is estimated that at least 150,000 First Nation, Metis, and Inuit children passed through that school system. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which began in 2008 and ended in 2015, provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The TRC made 94 calls to action to help Canadians work toward a true and lasting reconciliation. Acknowledging the wrong policies and abuses of the past is a step in that direction.
Over the coming days and weeks, I encourage you to observe and pay homage to the Indigenous people who were retraumatized by this tragic discovery and, in particular, to those who lost family members under these unimaginable circumstances. As you have seen over the last several days, gatherings and ceremonies by Indigenous peoples and supporters to honour the 215 children, are happening all across Canada and will continue over the next several weeks. The flags at CBU are flying at half-mast today and will until June 8 to honour the lives of the 215 children. Let us all stand together to comfort and support our fellow Canadians during these most challenging times.
Yours very truly,
David C. Dingwall
President & Vice-Chancellor