Last Thursday, Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation confirmed that the remains of 215 indigenous children were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The findings have sparked strong reactions from across the country and demands for more affirmative actions. Leaders have come forward expressing their support for the indigenous community and how they plan on aiding them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said additional support for the indigenous community and residential school survivors is underway. Trudeau acknowledged how “people are hurting” and that “this is not an exception or isolated incident.”
Opposing parties have also come forward, with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh calling for immediate action by the federal government. Singh has requested an emergency debate on the next steps that the federal government can take. This was met with support by the Conservative party too.
According to Singh, “It is not good enough for the federal Liberal government to just make symbolic gestures.” Instead, he is calling for the grounds of more indigenous schools to be searched.
Trudeau has alluded to past funding announcements when asked if he supports the calls for funding more site searches. “We will be there to work with communities on the things they need,” Trudeau said.
Similarly, Conservative MP Michele Rempel Garner called the discovery “a stain on our country.”
“More action needs to be taken. This is not a time to talk. We have to be taking cues from Indigenous leaders across the country,” she said.
Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, asked that flags at Ontario government buildings be flown at half-mast to commemorate the losses.
His support was met with backlash by the public, who pointed out the hypocrisy of his statement because of his track record of slashing budgets that support the indigenous community.