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We Stand Together: Elder Dr. David Courchene

Warning: This post contains details some readers may find distressing.

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. On June 24, 2021, the discovery of 751 unmarked graves was announced near a former Saskatchewan residential school.

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


Elders are essential to the survival of the culture and history of First Nations as they retain the teachings and knowledge of peoples almost wiped out by colonialism. First Nations look to their Elders to carry those teachings into the future, to ensure these tragedies are never forgotten or repeated. The news of these lost children pained Nii Gaani Aki Inini (Leading Earth Man), Elder Dr. David Courchene of The Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness in Sagkeeng First Nation. However, he asks what the world will be like for the children of today and tomorrow?

“I know the challenges out there are great, and it will take the courage of people who can put aside their differences and say we have to think about our children. What footpath will we leave them? What I have seen is we’re spending the inheritance of our children. If we continue to exploit the land at the rate it is being exploited, it’s at the expense of the most vulnerable, the children.”

Hear from other voices of Manitoba: https://u-channel.ca/we-stand-together-voices-of-manitoba/


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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