The announcement on May 27th by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation of the location of an unmarked burial site of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School is a devastating affirmation of the scope and depth of atrocities linked to Indian Residential Schools (IRS). We express and extend our condolences to Indigenous peoples in Canada.
National consciousness has been raised regarding the atrocities committed at residential schools and the realities of genocide committed against Indigenous peoples, and it is incumbent upon us to recognize the intergenerational trauma that is carried by Indigenous peoples who are our friends and colleagues. As a Faculty of Information, with programs in archives, library, and museum studies, and other significant areas of information, data science, information policy, and knowledge management, we value and uphold advocating for information issues and raising public awareness of the role of information within society. We recognize the historical and contemporary intersections between oppression, settler colonialism, injustice and information work.
The accessibility of records, documentation, and information are critical to both revealing truth and as a pathway toward reconciliation. Records play a role in locating and naming the children who died at residential schools. The lack of records, faulty record keeping, and destruction of records mean the painful reality that the truth about Residential Schools has not yet been fully revealed and many families still do not know what happened to their loved ones. We call on the Catholic Church, the Federal government, and other related organizations to swiftly make all documents related to IRS available to Survivors and communities. The continued withholding of church and government records is one of many ways in which these institutions continue the colonial and genocidal injustices of the residential school era today.
We acknowledge our responsibilities to work toward both Truth and Reconciliation. As such, we encourage all non-Indigenous people to read the Calls to Action, and the TRC documents, to listen to Survivors, to learn more about the experiences of Indigenous peoples within the nation state of Canada. We invite our Faculty of Information community–professors, alumni, staff, students–to respond with acts of solidarity and support.
June 9, 2021