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We Stand Together: Alayh McIvor

On May 27, the First Nations community was shaken when the remains of 215 First Nations children were found in unmarked graves on what was once a Catholic-run Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. Some of the children were as young as three years old.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,

“Residential Schools for Indigenous people in Canada date back to the 1870s. Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, and the last school closed in 1996. These government-funded, church-run schools were set up to eliminate parental involvement in Indigenous children’s intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development.

More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools during this era, often against their parents’ wishes. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. While there are an estimated 80,000 former students living today, the ongoing impact of residential schools has been felt throughout generations and has contributed to social problems that continue to exist.”

These are the voices of our First Nations pained by the loss, frustrated by systemic racism and oppression, and the stories of survivors.

On Sunday, May 30, Manitoba’s First Nations held a four-day ceremony in front of Manitoba’s Legislative building, honouring the lives of the 215 children who were found and honouring survivors for their resiliency and stories. Alayh says we need to listen to the experiences of Residential School survivors, and accountability needs to take place. 

“The survivors here, their stories have been dismissed, and if they [the government] want to do action, they will stop in their tracks of the syndromes they are causing, the syndromes they created, such as the 60’s Scoop, Child and Family Services taking away children from them [Indigenous people] to disenfranchise them, to disempower them, and holding power over Indigenous people by taking their children away in

different formalities. [Meaningful action] is honouring them [Indigenous people], compensating them properly, reinstating claims. That’s just the tip of that piece to move forward. Coming, hearing, and listening at a grassroots level is one of the most important things to do.”

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

A helpline for residential school survivors can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is a British Columbia-based organization providing services to residential school survivors for over 20 years. It started by helping residential school survivors navigate the court systems and has since expanded to help residential school survivors and engage in community education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. You can donate here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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