Content Warning: This story may be distressing to some readers
In honour of the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School last week, the Lil Helper team feels its important to help amplify Indigenous voices during this time of mourning.
All Canadians need to do their part to achieve the Calls to Action from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and this cannot be achieved without Call to Action #71 – all children lost in the genocide that was residential schools need to be found and acknowledged, so they can be brought home.
One way to support this part of reconciliation, is by pushing the federal government to continue the work started by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and fund the use ground penetrating radar at all former residential schools. To support this important work, please visit this change.org petition and learn more from the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
A Poem by Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)
We searched for you
You supposed to come home.
Instead, the robes came.
They told us that you ran away.
We told them that you would never run away.
We told them that you were too young to run away.
We told them that you were afraid of the dark.
We begged them to find you.
We begged them for mercy.
We begged them to pray to their god for help.
They stood there, firm.
They stood there, cold.
They stood there, unfeeling.
They said that you ran away.
They said they had been looking for months.
They said you weren’t going to come home.
They were right, you didn’t come home.
Your dad and I searched for you.
Your siblings and grandparents searched for you.
Your aunts, uncles and relatives searched for you.
We couldn’t find you.
You began to appear in our dreams.
You were always near the school.
You told us that you did not run away.
We searched again and again.
Your grandparents searched until they died.
Your dad searched until he died.
A few days ago, I found you.
I heard it on the news.
They said the number ‘215’.
I felt you jump for joy.
You were found.
I told them that you wouldn’t run away.
Kākithaw niwākomākanak (All my Relations),
(author) Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)
Original Home Territory: Ochapowace Cree First Nation
The catholic church and Canadian Federal government ran the Kamloops residential school, which opened in 1890 and ran until 1978.
This piece was written in honour of the 215 children who died and were buried on the grounds of the school, and to their families and communities.
In honour of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation who are working to honour the children by identifying them.
If you need to talk to someone about your feelings, please call the residential school helpline at 1-866-925-4419.