Skip to content

Editorial: Discovery of unmarked graves should lead to national reckoning

Truth and Reconciliation is an ongoing process. We hope this is a turning point in our willingness to acknowledge our shameful past.
Shoes at St Pau's Church 2
Dozens of children's shoes line the stairs of St. Paul's Church on the Squamish Nation reserve on May 31, 2021, in honour of the children buried at Kamloops Residential School.

The past few days have been ones of shock, sadness and coming together as the North Shore community seeks ways to honour the 215 Indigenous children discovered in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops residential school.

“Mass grave,” of course, is a term we’re used to thinking about in connection with wars in faraway countries. It’s shocking to consider it connected to children in B.C., though Indigenous people have known these truths for a long time.

The pairs of children’s shoes placed on the steps of St. Paul’s Indian Church on Monday are a heartbreaking reminder of their youth and vulnerability.

We hope this is a turning point in our willingness to acknowledge our shameful past.

It’s hard to understand a moral universe in which burying children without even recording their names would be considered OK.

More than a decade ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked for funding of $1.5 million to identify these unmarked gravesites. That request was rejected by the Conservative government of the day.

The legacy of residential schools haunts not only those who died but those who survived the school system only to pass down its terrible lessons to other generations.

Truth and Reconciliation is an ongoing process and there is much hard work still to do.

A full investigation into other hidden school graves, and the naming and identifying of those who died, along with a return of the remains to the children’s communities is the next step on that long road.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.