MP Longfield's Statement on the Missing Children of the Residential School System
June 3, 2021
Like many of you, I was profoundly saddened by the news out of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. The loss of these 215 children who attended the former Kamloops Residential School is unthinkable. We know that the hurt and suffering of families and survivors of residential schools across our country is still causing trauma today.
I personally remain committed to educating myself and others by acknowledging our institutional past while memorializing and honouring those who never returned home. We all have a shared responsibility to continue the work on reconciliation, addressing violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. We know that saying sorry for the tragedies of the past is not enough for the children who died, for their families, or for survivors and communities.
As a parliamentarian, I know I need to own the responsibility of generations of parliamentarians that have contributed to systemic racism, and look for my own ways of taking action now. As a person of faith, this has also prompted further personal reflection as I reconcile this with the role of the Catholic Church in this tragedy. And as a Guelph resident, recent events have caused me to reflect and renew my commitment to right the wrongs of the past here in our own community. The wrongdoings of the past can never be repeated. We all must continue to work together to ensure our actions help every Indigenous child grow up proud of their First Nation, Inuit and Métis heritage. Chief Casimir has asked that all Canadians stand in solidarity and ensure that these tragic stories are never forgotten.
We are focusing on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. We have also been engaging with Indigenous communities impacted by residential schools on how best to proceed with identifying and delineating burial sites, conducting memorialization, and reburial of loved ones in home communities.
Please take the time to check in on your Indigenous friends and neighbours and see how they are doing. I encourage you all to engage with your friends and family by having the difficult conversations that need to be had about our actions and our past.
We must continue working together to truly reconcile Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people and ensure that everyone can feel safe, valued, and have an equal opportunity to succeed.
If you or anyone you know needs support please reach out to the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 24/7 1-866-925-4419.
Member of Parliament for Guelph