Buffy Sainte Marie speaks up at the Juno Awards
...Indigenous people are not surprised....
Jann Arden:
Tragically Hip:
Crown Lands:
Julian Taylor:
Burnstick asks for donations to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
What happened in Kamloops and what are residential schools?
Mass gravesite found at Kamloops Residential School
215 undocumented deaths
Canadian residential schools
How many children were forced to attend residential schools?
The last government-run residential school closed in 1996
Attempts to abolish Indigenous culture
Erase their way of life in just a few generations
All Indigenous children had to attend school
Cultural genocide
Students could not write to their families in their native languages
Deplorable living conditions
Subjected to physical and emotional abuse
Subjects of human experimentation
How many children died at Canadian residential schools?
At least 3,200 children died
The schools didn't make children more successful
Feeling they didn't belong anywhere
Horrendous long-term effects
A call to identify gravesites
Still a painful reality
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Buffy Sainte Marie speaks up at the Juno Awards

Canadian-born singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte Marie used her appearance at the Juno Awards as an opportunity to speak out against the horrendous treatment of the First Nations Peoples.

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...Indigenous people are not surprised....

During her speech at the Junos, Buffy Sainte Marie spoke of how while this news may be shocking to some, for the Indigenous peoples, it is not surprising at all. The 80-year-old performer also said, “The genocide basic to this country’s birth is ongoing, and we need to face it together...And I ask for your compassion.”

(Photo: Instagram@buffystemarie)

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Jann Arden: "The Catholic Church is diabolical"

Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden shared her disgust and outrage towards the Catholic church regarding the discovery on Twitter. Arden wrote, "The Catholic Church is diabolical. Canada -all of us- has looked the other way too bloody long.#shameofthecentury"

(Photo: Instagram@jannarden)

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Tragically Hip: "heartbreaking"

The Tragically Hip also spoke out about the matter on Instagram and Twitter. The iconic Canadian band called the discovery "heartbreaking" and shared helpline numbers for those struggling with the news of the discovery.

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Crown Lands: "..what else has yet to come to light?"

Canadian band Crown Lands also shared their sorrow over the Kamloops discovery. The band shared information for helplines on their Instagram page along with a statement saying, "The tragic loss of 215 children found in Kamloops weighs heavy in our hearts. It begs the question of what else has yet to come to light, and what are the actual numbers like in all residential schools across this land?"

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Julian Taylor: "...Canadians continue to be smug about how great a nation it is."

Juno Award nominee Julian Taylor did not hold back on Instagram when speaking out against this national tragedy. The musician wrote, "What most Canadians don’t know is the truth about this country and the evil and the hurt that has been caused by Canada and the Church against Indigenous People. There’s an unbearable lasting trauma of having families torn apart, while their children are raped and murdered. There’s no culture in the world that wouldn’t be damaged by these crimes of humanity yet Canadians continue to be smug about how great a nation this is."

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Burnstick asks for donations to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society

Jason Burnstick of the Canadian folk music group Burnstick wrote about the release of the film 'Shin-Chi S Canoe' on YouTube. The film has been released on YouTube, so it can be viewed free of charge. Burnstick asks that those that view it donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

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What happened in Kamloops and what are residential schools?

Click on to learn about the horrific discovery made at a Kamloops residential school at the end of May and how and why residential schools were introduced in Canada.

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Mass gravesite found at Kamloops Residential School

On May 27th, Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that 215 graves had been found at Kamloops Residential School. A residential school like this one was historically used to impose western manners and values onto Indigenous children in Canada.

Pictured here are 215 pairs of kids shoes displayed on May 29, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, in remembrance of the children found.

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215 undocumented deaths

According to reports from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation of Canada, the school was one of the largest residential schools. It only had 55 deaths on record. The 215 bodies found were undocumented deaths and only detected with the assistance of ground penetrating radar technology.

Pictured are the classroom buildings at Kamloops Residential School circa 1950. (From InconnuCanada. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Library and Archives Canada, PA-207641 /Canada)

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"An unthinkable loss..."

The remains were confirmed as being of children who were residents at the school, some as young as three years old. Chief Casimir (pictured) released a statement saying that the finding was "an unthinkable loss .. never documented by the school's administrators." Casimir also stated that her nation is now working with the Royal B.C. Museum to seek out records in hopes to identify the 215 children.

(Photo: CPAC)

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Canadian residential schools

Kamloops is an example of the Canadian residential schools that the government ran from the 1820s onwards. The colonialist mentality of the nineteenth-century Canadian government caused it to think that they had the responsibility to "educate" the Indigenous people of Canada.

Pictured: a group of children in the 1890s in Ontario.

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How many children were forced to attend residential schools?

The 'National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation' estimates that around 150,000 children of Inuit, Aboriginal, or Métis origin were removed from their homes and forcefully sent to residential schools over 170 years.

(Photo: Students at Blue Quills Residential School - Provincial Archives of Alberta)

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The last government-run residential school closed in 1996

The schools began to operate in 1828, and by the 1930s, around 30% of Indigenous children were attending residential schools. Shockingly, the last government-run residential school did not close until 1996. The school, called 'Gordon's Student Residence,' was located in Punnichy, Saskatchewan near the 'George Gordon Reserve.'

Pictured: girls studying at Fort Resolution Residential School. (BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives from Canada)

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Attempts to abolish Indigenous culture

The Canadian government believed that Indigenous peoples could only be successful if they were Christians and adopted the customs of the European colonizers. The schools aimed to abolish the traditions and beliefs of the Indigenous people. They hoped that the children educated at the schools would then pass on their new lifestyle to their children.

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Erase their way of life in just a few generations

When the schools first began, the government hoped that the Indigenous languages and way of life would be erased entirely in just a few generations.

Pictured: a group of students in 1910.

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"Aggressive assimilation"

For that purpose, the Canadian government developed a policy of "aggressive assimilation" of Indigenous children in government-funded, church-run boarding schools. Officials decided to focus on children as they are generally easier to mould than adults.

Pictured: a group of First Nations girls in B.C. in 1949.

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All Indigenous children had to attend school

In areas where day schools didn't exist, attendance was mandatory. The 'Department of Indian Affairs' ran the schools and had its own agents to ensure that all Indigenous children attended school.

Pictured: an Inuit girl with her father in northern Quebec in 1955.

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Cultural genocide

After being separated (most often by force) from their families and taken to the schools, students were forbidden to speak in their native languages. They had to speak English or French. In addition, they were separated by genders and forced to adopt European hairstyles, dress manners, and Christianity. The Truth and Reconciliation Council of Canada (TRC) states that residential schools were an attempt at “cultural genocide" by the federal government of Canada.

(Photo: Unknown author, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada )

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Students could not write to their families in their native languages

Children could correspond with their families through letters; however, they were forced to write in English or French, which most families could not even read. If siblings were sent to a school together, they could only have contact if they were of the same gender, as boys and girls had to live separately.

Pictured: students in class at Fort Albany Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario (archives.algomau.ca)

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Deplorable living conditions

To make matters worse, the living conditions at the schools were in most cases deplorable. Students were often forced to live in unhygienic, overcrowded spaces. Most were away from their parents for ten months a year, some even year-round.

Pictured: students making beds in their dormitory in the 1950s.

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Subjected to physical and emotional abuse

In addition to the trauma of being separated from their families and denied their language and culture, the children who attended residential schools were subjected to physical and emotional abuse.

Pictured: school photo in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1908 (by John Woodruff - Image online from Library and Archives Canada)

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Subjects of human experimentation

The abuse ranged from being whipped for speaking their native language to sexual assault or being the subjects of human experimentation. According to the TRC, there are thousands of well-documented stories of abuse from survivors of residential schools.

Pictured: The Qu'Appelle Industrial School in Lebret, Assiniboia, North-West Territories, c. 1885 (Library and Archives Canada)

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How many children died at Canadian residential schools?

Records of deaths at residential schools were often not kept or incomplete. In the case of existing records, the TRC found that basic personal information such as gender was often missing and that they often just listed the number of deceased children without additional information.

(Photo: Library and Archives Canada)

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At least 3,200 children died

Experts estimate that somewhere between 3,200 to more than 6,000 Indigenous children died while in the care of residential schools.

Pictured: Cairn erected in 1975 marking the Battleford Industrial School cemetery (Saskg - Own work)

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The schools didn't make children more successful

Even though the schools were created to "help" the Indigenous children of Canada become more successful in life, they did no such thing. Most students who attended residential schools were not well accepted into mainstream Canadian society. Despite being Christians and speaking English or French, they were subjected to racism.

Pictured: Indigenous girls being taught to knit in B.C.

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Feeling they didn't belong anywhere

Those who tried to return to their families and reserves felt rejected there also. They no longer understood the traditions or spoke the language of their families.

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Horrendous long-term effects

The long-term effects of the Canadian government's residential schools have been devastating to the Indigenous communities of Canada. Post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide increased in Indigenous communities and remain a persistent problem to this day.

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A call to identify gravesites

Recently, in light of the discovery of the mass grave in Kamloops, B.C., Indigenous leaders are calling for the identification of unmarked gravesites along with a national day of mourning to honour all the children who died while at residential schools.

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"They would want closure..."

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron (pictured) said, “All these families have no idea what happened to [their children], they would want closure, questions answered and a thorough search.”

(Photo: Global News Canada)

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Still a painful reality

The Toronto Star also reported on a statement made by Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq (pictured) about how the mistreatment of the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis is still a painful reality.

(Photo: CPAC)

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"To move forward all Canadians must face these horrors..."

Savikataaq said: “In order to move forward, all Canadians must face these horrors, learn the truth, demand justice and work toward meaningful reconciliation on our terms.”

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