The Syilx Okanagan Nation holds a ceremony outside of the Indian Residential School Monument, dedicated to all Syilx (Okanagan) people who went to Indian Residential School, especially to those who did not make it home. Photo taken on November 28, 2017 (The Syilx Okanagan Nation website/contributed).

Syilx Okanagan Nation calls for accountability after remains of 215 children found

The band is responding to the tragedy announced Thursday

  • May. 30, 2021 12:00 a.m.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation is joining other First Nations bands in their call for accountability after the remains of 215 residential school victims were found at Kamloops Indian Residential School.

On its website, the Syilx Okanagan Nation says it is shocked and profoundly saddened by the announcement made on Thursday.

Children from across many First Nations attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“The horrifying discovery has confirmed what our survivors and families have known and feared all along, that the violence and abuse far exceeded what was previously reported,” said the Syilx Okanagan Nation in the release.

“The legacy of the Indian Residential School system has had devastating impacts on the Syilx Okanagan Nation that continue to be felt today. The level of inhumane and criminal treatment of First Nation’s children at the hands of colonial governments and organized religion is deeply disturbing. We are calling on the Province of British Columbia and Government of Canada to directly address these atrocities,” stated Chief Clarence Louie.

The Syilx Okanagan people say the families in their communities need time to ‘process this unthinkable discovery,’ and say it is important to remember that all Indian Residential School survivors will experience intense grief.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief and Council hosted an Urgent Chiefs meeting on Saturday, in which Chief Clarence Louie added “I want to thank the Tk’emlups Chief and Council for arranging this meeting and inviting us to do and share what needs to be done,” and affirmed that “the Syilx Okanagan Nation are ready to participate and support wherever possible.”

As part of a collective, Nation-wide response, the Syilx Indian Residential School Committee is also asking that all members reach out to survivors and family members to check in and see if they need support.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a 24/7 emergency crisis: 1-800-721-0066.

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