The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation has announced it will release findings of the ground-penetrating radar survey of the estimated 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School later this week.
The nation says it will provide a technical briefing on the ground-penetrating radar work that has been done as well as information on “next steps.”
Ahead of the presentation on Thursday, and as more unmarked burial sites have been revealed across the country, Splatsin Kukpi7 and Secwépemc Tribal Chief Wayne Christian is speaking out about managing trauma.
The number of unmarked graves continues to grow
He wants Indigenous people to know that they are supported.
“Nobody was there for the children. Nobody was there for them. We’ll be there for you,” he told Global News.
“We’ve got a process where their family counsel, the 13 family heads, are involved, where the survivors or veterans are involved, and where their community as a whole is involved. So that’s the important part of the process.”
Focusing on children’s mental health amid residential school grave discoveries
For more than four decades, Christian, a 60’s Scoop survivor, has worked to establish healing and health systems for Indigenous people across the province. He says now is a chance for more Canadians to try and comprehend what his people are enduring.
“That’s what Canada’s got to understand — we didn’t do this willingly, we were forced by law,” he said. “So we’re here for our people. We’re going to help them through this.”
He’s reminding people processing trauma that they are “having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”
He also wants people to know that trauma can last a lifetime.
“You look at the veterans of war and how they were traumatized and how PTSD [affected] their life and how that was misunderstood for many years,” he said. “I think that this situation with the veterans of this war against our children is no different.”
Christian is encouraging all Canadians to turn their grief and anger into action by participating in events and writing to members of parliament.
“But more importantly, educate your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren because it’s going to be that generation that is actually going to change things,” he said.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access this 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419
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