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MOA’s Statement on the Unmarked Burials of Indigenous Children at Indian Residential Schools

As the ongoing devastation and impact of the Indian residential school system continues to come to light, MOA calls on everyone in this country to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples in seeking truth and justice.

The announcements of unmarked burials of more than one thousand Indigenous children, to date, on the grounds of Indian residential schools across the country reminds us of the horrors perpetrated against Indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities have spoken the truths of the atrocities for a long time; survivors have provided chilling testimony of the Indian residential school system where education was used as a tool of oppression. It is time we listen and act.

In the words of Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation, “All we ask of you is that you stand by us as we heal and we get stronger. We all must put down our ignorance and accidental racism of not addressing the truth that this country has with Indigenous people. We are not asking for pity. We are asking for understanding and time to heal.”

The Museum of Anthropology at UBC stands with all Indigenous peoples at this time of mourning and widespread sorrow. We acknowledge that museums also carry responsibility for the harms perpetuated against Indigenous peoples through the colonial system. The museum adds its voice to UBC’s call to help uncover the truth about the missing children and to honour their lives in ways determined appropriate by their families and communities. In support of the findings and recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we reaffirm our commitment to raising society’s awareness of Canada’s colonial history and the cultural genocide practiced against Indigenous peoples. We will continue to work to promote the understanding and healing necessary for change.

Next time you visit MOA, we invite you to contribute to our new lobby display in honour of the Indigenous children who did not make it home, and for those who are still missing. You’ll have the opportunity to add an orange shirt in solidarity with those who have been, and continue to be, impacted by the residential school system. There is space for those wishing to write a message, a kind thought, or perhaps a name in honour of a loved one who has been impacted.

We encourage everyone to educate themselves on the history of Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s residential schools, and explore the digital resources provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.


Resources

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Assembly of First Nations Residential School toolkit

Reading list on residential schools

Where to donate and support Residential School survivors