Sage burning outside of the Métis nation office in memory of the 215 children lost at the Kamloops Residential School. (Claire Palmer photo)

Columbia River Métis Society encouraging education in wake of Kamloops

Davene Dunn is hoping people will reach out to the federal government to encourage change

The Columbia River Métis Society is speaking out after the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children who were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Métis Society is encouraging people to reach out to their local Member of Parliament in order to encourage the federal government to take action to help the plight of Indigenous people in Canada.

Davene Dunn of the Métis Society says that people should stand up and ask that a registry be made of all the children who perished in the residential school system as a step forward and acknowledgement of the pain caused. The creation of such a registry is outlined in the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released in 2015, which seeks to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of reconciliation.

“It’s time to call on the federal government to initiate those calls to action, to get going on it,” said Dunn.

Dunn also is encouraging those who are reaching out to local MPs to advocate for potable water on all reserves in Canada, as the lack of access to water serves as a stark reminder that the mistreatment of Indigenous people in Canada is not just a historical issue, but a present day one as well.

“I think it’s time that the truth be told so at least we can start over and and maybe give a hand up to our Indigenous people who are still bearing the wounds of this mistreatment over years and years,” said Dunn.

“I think as a show of good faith, for God’s sake, get some water, some clean water. If those were white folks, you can bet that they would have water right away.”

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In remembrance of the 215 children, schools across Golden held a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. on June 1. Flags were lowered to half-mast. The Métis Society also hung orange shirts outside of their office and burned sage, which Dunn explained was in the memory of children who died.

“The sage is burning in memory of them, who died in the most horrific ways,” said Dunn.

“Any negative energy that is coming through Golden, we ask the Creator to take our prayer, to heal and educate the rest of society and to heal Indigenous people. And so the smoke will carry our prayer to the Creator.”

The Métis Society says that the support they’ve received from the community has been fantastic over the years, with Dunn elaborating that the past week has been no different. She says she hopes that people can start having conversations and educating themselves on the history of residential schools in Canada.

“It’s not news to us. I’m surprised that so many people didn’t know, there are people who are flabbergasted that this happened,” said Dunn.

She recommends reading the 94 calls to action, which is available online.

Dunn also says that members of the community are always welcome to come to events hosted by the Métis Society and is encouraging locals to join their Facebook page to know when events are upcoming in order to educate and engage with Indigenous issues.

The next upcoming event is June 21, when they will celebrate Indigenous day at the museum.

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