I, like I’m sure many of you, read the news out of Kamloops last week and was lost for words.
It’s an unthinkable tragedy when a human life is lost but when the lives of children are taken, it feels all too much. But this is the tragic legacy of the residential school system in Canada. It’s not just a chapter in our history, this is an ongoing story in our lives today. Racism is real and it happens in our communities every day.
We need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable conversations and start calling out racism when we see it happening. It’s in the conversations you have with family, friends and colleagues. I encourage you to find ways to educate yourself and learn about the atrocities of residential schools. Courses like the online Indigenous Canada one from the University of Alberta
is free and a good place to start.
The City of Lethbridge is taking steps forward
to foster a better relationship with our Indigenous neighbours but there is still so much room for improvement. Along with the half-masting of the flags at City Hall, I have also requested that we light City Hall in orange to honour those 215 children who were taken along with their families, communities and those survivors who continue to carry the wounds of the residential school system.
If you are experiencing distress as a result of this tragic news, the Government of Canada set up a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line to provide support to former residential school students and those affected. You can access a range of supports by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
Lastly, I encourage you to show support and remember the victims, families and communities of these children and the countless others who suffered so much. Whether it be attending a memorial where safe to do so, leaving a teddy bear on your steps, wearing orange or just simply talking about the tragic loss of life with the people in your lives.