For Immediate Release
Friday, June 11, 2021
OTTAWA, ON – The members of the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) are horrified by the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the reserve of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc near the Kamloops residential school. The members of the IBA, many of whom are related to the individuals who attended the Kamloops residential school, continue to endure feelings of trauma, loss, and anguish following the discovery. Indigenous peoples all over Canada, and those with close ties to the Secwe̓pemc Nation, continue to mourn the loss of their ancestors and denounce the dreadful atrocities committed against them. The IBA stands with the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc and all Indigenous peoples in Canada who continue to suffer the effects of genocide.
Indigenous people in Canada have suffered acts of genocide at the hands of the various churches in Canada, as well as at the hands of the Canadian government, through the forcible transfer of Indigenous children. Canada’s targeted infliction of inhumane suffering, mental and spiritual harm, the forced sterilization of Indigenous women, and, in some cases, the death of numerous Indigenous children. These are only a few examples of how Indigenous people have experienced this genocide. The generational effects of these detestable acts, and the ideologies which allowed these acts to go on for such an extended period, continue to persist today.
The collective experiences of Indigenous people are well documented in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (the “TRC Report”), and in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (the “MMIW Report”). As stated in the MMIW Report:
We do know that thousands of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA have been lost to the Canadian genocide to date. The fact that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples are still here and that the population is growing should not discount the charge of genocide; the resilience and continued growth of these populations don’t discount the many actions detailed within this report, both historical and contemporary, that have contributed to endemic violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Ultimately, and despite different circumstances and backgrounds, what connects all these deaths is colonial violence, racism and oppression
To provide a path forward for all Canadians and to advance reconciliation, the TRC Report established 94 Calls to Action, and the MMIW Report established 124 Calls for Justice.
While the recent discoveries have shocked many Canadians, and have caused them to reflect on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples—this is not enough. We are at a crucial juncture in Canada’s history; a time for deliberate change in assumptions about Indigenous peoples and the ways in which our legal and political institutions interact with Indigenous peoples. We encourage the Canadian public to review the Calls to Action and the Calls for Justice to determine which of these affect your workplaces, your families or yourselves. To those who are seeking to support the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc during this extraordinarily challenging time, please follow the link below.
The IBA is a national association comprised of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. We are mandated to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada and the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples. We continue our commitment to collective healing and implementing the TRC’s Calls to Action. For more information please visit www.indigenousbar.ca.