Tuesday, June 1, 2021
The discovery of a mass burial site containing the bodies of 215 children at the former Kamloops Residential School is a terrible but important reminder that Canada’s racist and genocidal approach to First Nations people is not something that happened in our distant history. The residential school system continued to operate until 1996. Our hearts go out to all survivors of the system as well as their families, who are also survivors.
The federal government will be lowering flags to half-mast as an act of mourning and solidarity and we urge government to conduct similar investigations on the grounds of all former residential schools. We encourage any of our employers whose business or workplace displays a flag to lower it to half-mast. Where practicable, we also encourage all IATSE members to wear orange as a form of reconciliation and solidarity with Indigenous people.
To Indigenous IATSE members: this news has likely caused or reawakened pain or trauma. If you need help, the 24-hr National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
To our non-Indigenous members, we encourage you to take steps toward reconciliation by learning more about the residential school system in Canada. There are excellent resources available through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Specific information about the Missing Children and Burial Information can be found in the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation, section 71-76. It has been a financially challenging year for many IATSE members, but if you are able, we encourage you to make a donation to the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society.
It is long past time to bring these children home.