CFL teams honouring 215 Indigenous children found at site of former residential school in B.C.

Days after the remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, the CFL and its teams are honouring and remembering the lives lost.

The Blue Bombers were the first franchise to take action. In remembrance of the 215 children who died and for all children who did not survive Indian Residential Schools, the Winnipeg Football Club is honouring them by lighting the stadium orange for four nights, respecting the Treaty One custom.

To honour the 215 Indigenous children whose lives were taken at Kamloops residential school, Mosaic Stadium will be lit orange, starting next week, for 215 hours, the Saskatchewan Roughriders said in a statement.

“The Canadian Football League and its clubs join with all those honouring and remembering the memory of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently found at the site of a former residential school in British Columbia,” the league said in a statement. 

“The suffering of their families – and the collective trauma this has triggered for Indigenous people across the country – reminds us all that Canada’s story includes acts of extreme cruelty fuelled by racism and colonialism, and there is so much more to be done to acknowledge and address the pain and injustice imposed upon First Nations, Métis and Inuit.”

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7 Chief Rosanne Casimir confirmed the unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School on Thursday, May 27.

With the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the truth of the preliminary findings were confirmed. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the home community of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was the largest school in the Indian Affairs residential school system. As such, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Leadership acknowledges their responsibility to caretake for the lost children.

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.”

The work was undertaken by the C7élksten̓s re Secwépemc ne Ck̓úl ̓ tens ell ne Xqwelténs — Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Language and Culture Department — with ceremonial Knowledge Keepers who ensured that the work was conducted respectfully in light of the serious nature of the investigation with cultural protocols being upheld.

From 1890 to 1969 the school operated and at one time it was the largest residential school in Canada with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time. The federal government took over the building operations from the Catholic Church and ran the facility as a day school until it closed in 1978.

Courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

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