Following the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops (B.C.) Indian Residential School by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) laments the loss of these young lives.
We acknowledge the deep grief this announcement causes all Indigenous peoples, especially survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools. We recognize that many people are being re-traumatized by this news, although the knowledge of the graves has been part of long-standing oral history.
As a Christian organization, we are part of the larger church that was influenced by the Doctrine of Discovery—a set of beliefs that allowed European nations to colonize any land not ruled by Christian rulers, see Indigenous people as less than human, and view their lands as free for the taking—and subsequently inflicted harm on generations of Indigenous families through the residential school system. As settlers who became part of the mainstream of society, we benefited directly or indirectly at the expense of Indigenous peoples and assimilated prejudices that gave rise to the residential schools.
As a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, MCC is shaped by Christ’s call to reconciliation and peace. We commit to honouring the lives of all those whose graves were found—and will be found—by mourning with the families of these children. We commit to walking alongside Indigenous sisters and brothers seeking justice. We commit to increasing our advocacy and public engagement on issues related to Indigenous justice.
We encourage all Canadians to take actions that bear witness to the grief we are experiencing. We call on the Canadian government—and all Canadians—to commit to implementing the Calls to Action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. We encourage all Canadians to learn more about local land and history, and about the Indigenous peoples who call that land home.