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Mayor and Council statement on the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

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Learning of the 215 children that were found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has hit us hard here in the Devon community. Devon is home to many Indigenous residents from across the land, and we have been overwhelmed with emotion of learning about this finding.

In 2019, our Council passed the Cultural Awareness and Relationship Building with Indigenous Peoples Framework, which holds a strong focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. Through this, we have committed to standing in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters across the land by acknowledging the atrocities created by Church and Government initiated Indian Residential Schools. We have committed to becoming true allies with Indigenous Peoples through sustained practices of reconciliation and relationship building.

There is no question about it - the Indian Residential Schools and the abuse suffered by Indigenous children at these institutions are real. Their legacy still persists to this day and this unearthing bears question to just how many more forgotten children there still are at these sites across Canada.

The Indian Residential School System within these Indigenous lands is a sobering reality of the systemic racism, hate and cultural genocide that has persisted within our society in Canada. This, along with many other colonial practices and institutions have caused insurmountable pain, suffering and destruction of Indigenous People’s families, lives, cultures and livelihoods.

We, as a community focused on reconciliation, on love and compassion, mourn and grieve with you all - with the survivors, the families, and those who have been lost through the Indian Residential School System. We stand in solidarity with the people of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and we commit to keeping the spirit of the lives lost through the Indian Residential School System alive through memory, through acknowledgement and through action.

We must ensure that these deplorable actions never happen again, and we must continue to work together, as relatives, friends and neighbours, to educate each other and make certain that racism and hate do not persist within our communities.

We have lowered the flags at Town Hall from May 30 to June 8 to honour the lives of the 215 children. We also will observe 215 seconds of silence at our next Council Meeting as a way to honour and reflect on the lives of these children.

Our Council remains committed to true and genuine reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and we shall continue to create education and collaboration within Devon for Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to come together through compassion, friendship and understanding.

To those who have suffered trauma through these findings, who have been retraumatized or for those who continue to heal from the effects of the Indian Residential School System and need assistance, please contact the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. They are available 24/7 and can help assist those who are experiencing pain or distress due to the Residential School System and the recent events from the Kamloops Residential School.

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