The Department of Anthropology acknowledges the tragic news of the discovery of the burial locations of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops. This news is deeply disturbing especially for residential school survivors and their families, compounding the long-term devastation brought about by Indian Residential Schools in Indigenous communities across Canada.
The news from Kamloops is horrific but is also a stark reminder of truths that Indigenous peoples in Canada have already spoken. The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation’s Final Report documented missing children and cemeteries at Indian Residential Schools throughout the country. Both the TRC and school survivors have known that not all missing children have been named and accounted for—that more remain to be found and cared for.
We extend our deepest condolences to Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation and her community, and we stand in solidarity with community members who have undertaken this difficult work to reveal histories of colonialism even as they forge paths to healing. We urge the federal government to provide necessary supports, resources, and legislative changes to enact all 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation’s Call to Actions, especially items 71-76 which address the missing children of the residential school system.
Please note that the Canadian Archaeological Association has established a working group to develop guidance for Indigenous communities considering remote sensing: Canadian Archaeological Association / Association canadienne d’archéologie | (canadianarchaeology.com). The working group is chaired by Dr. Kisha Supernant (Alberta); Andrew Martindale and Eric Simons of the Department of Anthropology (UBC) are members.