June 1, 2021 NELSON HOUSE, MANITOBA – Upon learning about the horrifying discovery of the bodies of 215 children found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Chief Marcel Moody addressed fellow Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Citizens.
“This is the most recent tragic story to come from residential schools, but it is not surprising. It is more proof of the trauma that so many First Nations people have experienced,” said Moody in a post on the NCN Facebook page. “Many of our own Citizens survived abuse, neglect and sexual assault at the hands of those who were supposed to teach them. Many of them have stories from the school in Brandon, Manitoba, where children’s bodies were also found.”
Even as it continues to make steps toward supposed reconciliation, Moody notes that the Canadian government continues to refuse to use the word “genocide”, and has yet to bring the Catholic Church in Canada to task for its evil acts.
“This upsetting discovery on land of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is the latest clear indication that the Canadian government has committed and allowed atrocious acts of racism and genocide on our people for centuries. Many of those terrible teachers live among us to this day, with their sins unacknowledged. Meanwhile, their victims fade from this country’s collective memory, and are only remembered when another horror is unearthed.”
Moody says the discovery in Kamloops stirs up old wounds and survivors experience the trauma again. He and NCN Council are working with the Nation’s Family and Community Wellness Centre and mobilizing its Public Health team to help Citizens move through this latest tragedy and into healing. They have also created tentative plans for a local memorial to honour all those, living and deceased, who undeniably lost their innocence during childhood at a residential school.
“I call on the federal and provincial governments to create a formal process to search each of this country’s almost 140 residential school lands for more unmarked burial grounds,” says Moody. “They must create protocols and funds that allow for the identification and repatriation of remains. To speak to any one survivor is to know that this terrible discovery is one of many.”
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is located at Nelson House, Manitoba, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg and 80 kilometres west of Thompson. It is an accomplished and progressive First Nation, having secured its own Aski Pumenikewin (Land Code) and Othasowewin (Constitution). NCN has close to 5,300 members living in Nelson House, South Indian Lake, Thompson, Brandon and Winnipeg.