The confirmation of the locations of unmarked burials at residential schools across Canada in 2021, including those at the Kuper Island School on Penelakut Island (east of Chemainus, Vancouver Island, 90 km from Victoria / lək̓ʷəŋən Territory), has further emphasized the ongoing and devastating impacts of Canada's Indian residential school system.
Indigenous communities and residential school survivors have, for many years, provided testimonies and spoken truths about Canada's Indian residential school system. In 2012 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published the interim report, They Came for the Children: Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools. In 2015, as volume 4 of the final report, Canada's Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, was published. The summary, The Survivor's Speak: A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, provides just some of the personal testimony of survivors brought forward during the Commission.
Canadians have known about the atrocities of Canada's residential school system for a long time. It is time to listen, learn, and take action. In honour of both the children who did not survive, as well those who did, take some time today for learning as an act of reconciliation.
Caution: Many of the resources in this guide contain discussions or scenes of violence or representations of trauma which may be painful for readers/viewers – please exercise care.
If you need help: The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides 24-hour phone support for Indigenous people in BC. The KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll-free at 1-800-588-8717. Individuals can also call the Youth Line at 250-723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250-723-4050.
The Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their or a loved one's residential school experience.
Camosun students can access help from the Counselling Centre. For resources related to emergency and after hours support, on-campus support, and other information, visit the Counselling Centre Resources webpage.