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Every Young Person Counts: Tragedy at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Every Young Person Counts: Tragedy at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

ARC-CCY Collective Statement
June 11, 2021

We, who are a part of the Anti-Racism Committee in CCY (ARC-CCY), are enraged and grieving the news that surfaced on May 27, 2021 about the 215 bodies of Indigenous children and youth recently found at a former Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia. Between 1831 and 1996, 139 Residential Schools operated across Canada through arrangements between the Government of Canada and religious institutions to annihilate Indigenous Peoples and Cultures. People who worked in Canadian education and who were members of religious faiths abused, neglected, and killed these children. Then, they buried their bodies in the ground outside and did not tell their parents and communities.  

These 215 children are not just numbers. They represent the tragic loss of so many human beings, yet these bodies are only the ones recently discovered. It is vitally important to acknowledge the loss of so many Indigenous, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit lives. This act of genocide—one of many perpetrated by the Canadian government before and since Confederation—contradicts the core principles of the work that we do here in the Children, Childhood and Youth Program. 

These findings are traumatizing for survivors of Residential Schools and triggering for the generations that have followed. This has deep and lasting impacts on their families, communities, and also on CCY and York University students, staff, and faculty. This is also a horrific reminder of how the Canadian state has played a role in residential schools, and how this legacy continues to negatively impact Indigenous families and communities today.

Educational institutions like York University have a long history of erasing Indigenous existence, experiences, and knowledge. More needs to be done to acknowledge and take responsibility for these traumas. As members of a program that works to focus on children’s rights and children’s agency, we at ARC-CCY recognize that we are a part of a racist institution and system that must recommit to addressing this history of erasure, and the ongoing systemic violence against Indigenous children and youth.

We call on Canadian authorities and the Catholic Church to conduct thorough investigations into the remains of these children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School as well as all other Indigenous residential schools across the country. We, at ARC-CCY, will be endorsing these petitions and emailing our respective MPs to take action, as we encourage our CCY community to do the same. Please take a moment to review these links.

Template letter to call on your Members of Parliament to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Petition to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

A Call For Accountability: Kamloops Indian Residential School

Here are some more important links: 
Indigenous organizations Indigenous Students' Association at York -  ISAY's primary mandate is to advocate for the Indigenous student body of York University. ISAY's mandate includes, but is not limited to: community awareness campaigns, cultural programming, social events and alliance building.

NIB funds  a wide variety of Indigenous culture and language revitalization programs and community-based education programs.

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is a membership-based, charitable organization located in the heart of downtown Toronto in a beautifully renovated heritage building. NCCT offers a wide range of programs and services based on Indigenous cultural traditions and teachings. All are welcome.

Na-Me-Res is a safe space for Aboriginal men to learn new skills and live healthy lives on or off the streets.

IRSSS provides services to Indian Residential School Survivors and their families and to maximize access to culturally sensitive, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual care.


The Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS) strives to create a sense of belonging and to support the academic, spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of a diverse Indigenous student population. We provide a safe community space that offers culturally appropriate support services and programs to facilitate students' success throughout their post-secondary studies.

  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) 24/7 Crisis Line 

1 (866) 925-4419

1 (888) 301-6426

  • Talk4Healing Indigenous Women Hotline