Anne Tenning, District Principal of Indigenous Education in School District 83, urges non-Indigenous people to take meaningful action and demand change following the confirmation of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Anne Tenning, District Principal of Indigenous Education in School District 83, urges non-Indigenous people to take meaningful action and demand change following the confirmation of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Time for true reconciliation, true healing

Anne Tenning, District Principal of Indigenous Education, urges action after residential school news

On May 27, the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School sent a sonic-boom of heartbreak that reverberated throughout B.C. and around the world.

For many First Nations people, it was so much more. These children were our relatives. Their families were denied the fundamental right to love, raise and protect them from harm. We cannot help but to think of the lives that these children, and thousands of others like them, could have led without these government-mandated, church-run residential schools.

We think about the Survivors and everything that they have endured. I think about my Mother, Elizabeth Tenning, who attended Kuper Island Residential School. Though we still cannot visit due to the pandemic, I wish I could protect her from the trauma that this has awoken in her. Last night, she told me about classmates who suddenly disappeared.

She and the other children were never told why.

Non-Indigenous people are undoubtedly also saddened by the news. Perhaps it feels like information overload. But feeling the burden of the news is nothing compared to the fact that First Nations people are consulting with forensic experts to see if they can be reconnected with their long-lost, but never forgotten, children. It could take years to bring these young souls home and lay them to rest.

The reality is that every residential school in Canada had grave sites just like the one that was discovered in Kamloops. It is long-past time to bring these children home. In many cases, it will be too late.

So what can we do? We all have a responsibility to uphold the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ‘Calls to Action’ and the terms of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If you are not familiar with these documents by now, you should be. Look them up and take meaningful action. Demand change.

June 11 will mark 13 years since Canada issued a formal apology to all living and former students of residential schools and their families and communities. But how much has really changed since then? We need to move beyond superficial or performative gestures of support. It should not be such a struggle for Indigenous people to experience safety, health, respect and cultural protections in a country that was built on our lands and at such unimaginable costs.

We need true reconciliation. True healing.

Anne Tenning is District Principal of Indigenous Education in School District 83, North Okanagan-Shuswap, and a member of the Stz’uminus First Nation on Vancouver Island.

Read more: School district, City of Salmon Arm offer condolences to region’s First Nations

Read more: Devastation over discovery at Kamloops residential school felt deeply throughout Shuswap


newsroom@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

residential schoolsTruth and Reconciliation Commission

Just Posted

Yoga with Goats instructor Samantha Richardson gets some attention from one of the goats while stretching on her mat June 15 at O’Keefe Ranch. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Yoga gone to the goats at North Okanagan ranch

Get your downward dog on with some four-legged friends at O’Keefe

A small balcony fire was doused Monday, June 21, 2021, at a home for sale on 43rd Avenue and 16th Street. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Small porch fire doused in Vernon

Tiny fire starts on balcony of home for sale

(Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
Motorcyclist taken to Vernon hospital

Motorcycle, vehicle both heading southbound on busy roadway and collide

It won't look quite l ike this in 2020 but the popular Music In The Park series for Armstrong's Memorial Park will be held with strict social distancing rules and limited tickets available for each show Friday night starting June 26. (Jenna Churchill photo)
Music will fill Armstrong park

Popular Music in the Park series returns, with protocols, with six bands booked for June and July

The 2020 grad class of Vernon Secondary School will be the first class to have their group shot Photoshopped together amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star file)
Vernon grads move traditional photo from courthouse in respect of 215 Indigenous children

Vernon Secondary Students snapshot at school to not disturb memorial

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Most Read