Written by: Nicole McCormick, Indigenous Chair of the Rogers Indigenous Peoples Network
Today marks the beginning of National Indigenous History Month, when we celebrate and acknowledge the history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. This month is a time to learn about the rich history of the Indigenous peoples who shaped our province and our country – and just recently, the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children found buried near a former residential school reminds us that history can be in the not-so-distant past and hit close to home.
Nicole McCormick, Indigenous Chair of the Rogers Indigenous Peoples Network, shares her thoughts on this heartbreaking and unimaginable loss:
My name is Nicole McCormick. I am a proud Kanyen’kehà:ka woman from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
It has been an emotional few days for my Indigenous colleagues, myself and for every one of our communities across Turtle Island as we grieve the loss of 215 Indigenous children buried at the Kamloops Residential School. We grieve for the 430 parents, 860 grandparents and countless aunties, uncles, relatives and friends of our stolen children. We, as Indigenous People, are saddened but not shocked by this discovery. We know the truth of the Residential School system. Many Indigenous employees at Rogers have felt the impact of the traumas those schools forced on our people. We carry it with us to this day. It is part of what makes us who we are. We know this darkness must come to light for you all to see what we already know. We need you to feel what we feel so that you may further educate yourselves and fight with us against the colonialism system that has treated us as less than human. Many of you have reached out to us to express your feelings. We thank you for your love, support any allyship.
For Indian Residential School Survivors and their families who need additional support right now, you can call the 24 hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
In solidarity, we are continuing this journey. We are flying our flags at half mast across our offices in remembrance. We are wearing orange to honour and remember the spirits of 215 Indigenous children stolen from us too soon at the Kamloops Residential School. We ask that when you wear your shirt, you remember what the shirt represents. It represents children who survived unfathomable atrocities and it represents the children who did not make it home. Please continue to uncover the truth. You cannot have reconciliation before the TRUTH. This is only the beginning.