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LETTER: Indigenous community 'grief stricken, enraged' following Kamloops Indian Residential School discovery

Michael Cachagee, chair of Ontario Indian Residential School Support Services, calls for government to actively search former residential school sites for unmarked graves
Children of Shingwauk project coordinator Michael Cachagee. James Hopkin/SooToday

SooToday received the following statement issued today by Michael Cachagee, chair of Ontario Indian Residential School Support Services (OIRSSS) in response to recent news of 215 children whose remains were found at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

We are shocked! We are mad! We are overwhelmed! We are triggered! We are grief stricken! We are enraged!

We hear on the television how a newscaster says that 215 remains of students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School were discovered.

The newscaster is nonchalant like this is an everyday occurrence. Has society especially the media become so insensitive that reporting tragedies against First Nations people on Turtle Island is acceptable and expected, that it is considered normal?

How sorry a society we are, to be so colonized and not even recognize it, know it and want to change it.

These children, as young as three years old, never stood a chance, discarded like garbage in a mass grave.

This child never felt love, taken from their family, brought to this ominous, huge building and suffered.

They were either beaten, raped, tortured, sexually abused, made sick with whatever disease that was prevalent at the school at the time.

We don’t know! We don’t have access to any of the coroner’s reports. The children could have been buried alive!

We do know that they were hidden in this mass grave to hide the nefarious acts committed on these children at this Catholic school!

We wonder how the descendants of the staff that worked at the Kamloops School?

I wonder how they are feeling? Do you think that they are overwhelmed, shocked, appalled, disgusted?

These children are our brothers and sisters. We are full of grief. For many years we have looked for them.

John Milloy, author of 'A National Crime' told us that there were several children missing from residential schools. No one knew what happened to them.

I wonder if 215 students disappeared from a school in Toronto or Ottawa and were located dead in a mass grave if the people affected after hearing the news would have just lowered their flags?

The Government of Canada and the Council of Churches possess the duty, bare the responsibility to right this tragedy, pay respects to these children whose only crime was being born Indigenous to this land!

For people who don’t know, Indigenous means 'springs from the land'. They did not get the opportunity to know life, to receive the gifts of ceremony, tradition, social life, their culture, love, their language!

Someone else, someone had care of these children, decided that they would never enrich our lives, their families’ lives, nor their communities.

They took what the government and the churches let them take.

They took their lives.

We call on the federal government and the Council of Churches to acquire the technology and go to every location where there either is a residential school still standing or where a residential school existed, and in using this laser technology, locate all the students laying in unmarked graves and return them ceremoniously to their communities.

We need to recover our brothers and sisters. They are not at peace!

The families and the communities need to recover their loved ones with the financial means that the government as their fiduciary responsibility and Council of Churches because if it was not for their racist systems created by them, the government of the day, and the Catholic church are responsible for this tragic, horrific discovery.

All my relations,
Michael Cachagee