June 7, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – Tungasuvvingat Inuit, along with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, grieve for the 215 children and their families following the discovery of the remains in Kamloops.  To those families and the people of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation that found their children, we offer our hearts, tears, and condolences.  Our hope for you is that you will find a pathway to healing and finally have closure.

The discovery has reopened deep wounds and we ask Canada to commit to real change and end colonial practices against First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people.  Today, our focus is healing and finding strength in our community.  For the people of Canada, find your voice and support Indigenous communities in solidarity and advocate for change.

Since the discovery, the journey has been difficult for Indigenous people across the country.  These events are traumatic and triggering and it has taken time to process the news and find the words.  After 150 years of colonial rule over Indigenous peoples, the inter-generational trauma faced by our people cannot be dismissed and we continue to call on government and those involved to be accountable.

As our families and communities navigate through this tragedy, more than ever we recognize the need for policies and government control over Indigenous peoples to end.  Policies that are based on colonial world views continue to plague our communities and must change.  The discovery of these innocent children leaves people feeling numb and empty.   The ongoing impact of the residential school system, the removal of children from their homes, families and culture, racial segregation, loss of territory, the dog slaughter, are realities Inuit live with each day.   Today, Indigenous children are still pulled away from parents and placed in a child welfare system that robs them of family connection, community, culture, and language.  How can we expect parents to feel healthy and safe when their children are at high risk from a system that continues to perpetuate intergenerational trauma?  For urban Inuit, the trauma is amplified by the challenges of the scarcity of affordable housing, poverty, food insecurity and the loss of connection with the land.

There is a great deal to work towards but in the immediate days ahead, we try to heal.  As we explore our feelings, hearts, and thoughts, we want a future that includes equality, better accessibility to supports and a society free of racism and colonial structures.  The government must remove barriers such as litigation against Indigenous families in the court system, prioritize access to affordable housing, reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system, work toward ending poverty, and provide clean drinking water to Indigenous communities.

Healing is not an individual process; it is a collective responsibility. May the memory of these children continue and provide a catalyst for real change.

Amanda Kilabuk
Executive Director
Tungasuvvingat Inuit