Yesterday, the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the grounds of a former residential school in Saskatchewan. Our hearts go out to the Cowessess First Nation and all of our Indigenous community members in light of this unconscionable and tragic loss. This follows the recent discovery of the unmarked grave of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
This is not simply a story about a dark chapter in Canada’s history. The racism responsible for these tragedies continues with disproportionately high rates of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in the child welfare system, multiple boil-water advisories in First Nations communities, the inequitable representation of individuals in our own health and forensic systems, and countless other examples.
Our action as allies is critical. Women’s College Hospital is committed to addressing the systemic racism responsible for these tragedies and working to achieve genuine reconciliation. At this time, I encourage each of you to:
- Read the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
- Educate yourself about First Nations, Inuit and Métis histories and cultures by visiting the On Canada Project which provides information on how to take action in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of this land.
- Review More Than Words, developed by the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health to understand resources and action items for non-Indigenous people to help advance truth and reconciliation.
I want everyone to have the support they need to process this news, particularly Indigenous staff, physicians, learners and patients. Our Employee and Family Assistance Program (1-800-387-4765) is available for those in need of support. And the National Indian Residential School crisis line is available to provide 24/7 support to residential school survivors and others affected: 1-866-925-4419
Every child matters.