For decades, we have learned to go to bed with the horrific knowledge that 150,000 Indigenous children once lived at one of 139 residential schools spread across our country. Today we must grapple with the new discovery of 215 children found buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
Before we share how we at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will commemorate Indigenous History Month in Ontario, we would like to share with you a little of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recognizes as the pain not talked about, pain that we should remember. Through the TRC inquiry, 4,100 deaths are known — 4,100 Indigenous children who never returned home.
The TRC noted that of the 4,100 children:
- For one-third, a name was not recorded.
- For one-half, the cause of death was not identified.
- For one-quarter, the gender was not identified.
This month, let’s lift up those who did not make it home. Let’s lift up the survivors and the multi-generational survivors who carry this pain.
How can we commemorate?
- Participate at one of the MCC Ontario Thrift shops by writing your name on a remembrance card and displaying your remembrance in a Thrift shop window (Thrift shops will reopen on June 14, pending public health guidelines).
- Wear an MCC “Every Child Matters” button. Available at MCC Thrift shops.
- Attend the online screening of Butterfly Monument. The Shannen Koostachin story tells of her activism around education, what it once was and what education is becoming. Join directors Jules Koostachin and Rick Miller and special guests for an evening that will help us all work together to remember. June 21, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm EST
- Partner with Steinmann Mennonite Church and contribute to the cost of a wagon as part of the Water on Wheels campaign, supporting manageable access to potable water in Attawapiskat First Nation.
- Use MCC’s letter-writing tool to engage with the minister of justice, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, minister of Indigenous services and your MPs as we listen, engage and learn about the issues in your local communities.
MCC commits to honouring the lives of all children and their families. We mourn with the families of these little ones. We commit to walking alongside Indigenous sisters and brothers seeking justice, and we encourage all Canadians to take actions that bear witness to the grief we are experiencing.
- More information about residential schools is available here.
- More information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is available here.
- More information about MCC’s Indigenous Neighbours program is available here.
If you require further emotional support or assistance, please call the IRS (Indian Residential School) Survivors Society 24hr crisis line at 1.866.925.4419.