Let’s Honour the Stolen Children By Walking the Talk
I must address the heartbreaking discovery of the mass burial of children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops. This is a moment of reckoning for Canada but also for us, as the residential school system was established under the guise of charity and progress.
The horrors of this system were known right from the start. From the stories that emerge from survivors, from the work of Dr. Bryce, the first Chief Medical Officer of the Department of the Interior and our first whistleblower, to the monumental research from the 1996 Royal Commission on the Aboriginal Peoples and the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The evidence convinced the former Chief of the Supreme Court that Canada attempted cultural genocide against Indigenous Peoples. A conclusion also endorsed by the independent national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and accepted by our current Prime Minister.
Now, we know in the most visceral way that Canada failed these children, that the past is not dead and is not even the past. It stains and shapes our country today.
More than 80 foundations have signed the Philanthropic Community Declaration of Action in service of Reconciliation and in support of the TRC Calls to Action. Let’s be honest: moving from intent to impact has been painfully slow. I urge all of us to reflect on that, to develop the necessary relationships with Indigenous Peoples, and to act on the Calls to Action which remain as relevant today as they did in 2015.
I’ve invited participants during our webinar yesterday to join me in a moment of silence. 215 seconds. This is just long enough to focus on the enormity of the crimes, to become uncomfortable. I encourage you to embrace the discomfort, the mourning, – notably from survivors and our Indigenous brothers and sisters-, the pain, the shame, the anger, and the crying need for accountability and justice, Let’s reflect on how our actions as foundations, as charities, as citizens of this land can support the seeds of change and truly commemorate and honour these children who died from brutal colonial and racist practices from the Government of Canada. Our current Government – representing all of us – must act swiftly to find all the stolen children and to implement the TRC Calls to Action.