May 31, 2021
Dear Allard Law Community Members:
Last week, it was announced that the remains of at least 215 children had been discovered in an unmarked burial site near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. This announcement follows many decades of survivors, First Nations and community members seeking answers and accountability for the disappearances of their loved ones. The Kamloops Indian Residential School was one of the largest residential schools in Canada, operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969. It was then operated by the Province as a day school from 1970 to 1978. The abuses perpetrated by the lay and religious staff at these schools have been and continue to be documented, including by the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) here at UBC. UBC President Santa Ono released a statement on the Kamloops IRS earlier today.
For some members of our community who are shouldering the traumatic legacy of the residential school system, including the intergenerational survivors of residential schools who are faculty, staff and students, this news has intensified and renewed those effects. Indigenous-focused supports are available. There are also resources for anyone who needs counselling supports.
Many of you may be thinking about what you can do to make a positive contribution to First Nations seeking justice for their loved ones who may be among those at this unmarked burial site. While these efforts will be led by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, lawyers and the legal system are directly implicated in the residential schools system, which was mandated by law and government policy. Law students can continue to learn more about the residential school system and the consequences of the schools, and how the imposition of colonial laws on Indigenous peoples disrupted Indigenous legal orders. At Allard Law we support efforts to rebuild Indigenous legal orders and will continue to place an emphasis on this important work.
All of us who seek justice, study or practice law, or advance the rule of law, must stand together to support First Nations peoples’ right to the complete truth about the treatment of children at Indian residential schools.
There is much work to be done, and the Allard School of Law is committed to contributing to those efforts. As a matter of our priorities, our first thought is to learn and to support survivors and their families.
Janine Benedet, QC, LLB, LLM, SJD
Dean pro tem and Professor
Peter A. Allard School of Law
The University of British Columbia
The Hope for Wellness Help Line is open to all Indigenous Peoples across Canada, and offers 24-hour mental health counselling, via phone 1-855-242-3310 or chat Line: https://chat.fn-i-hopeforewellness.ca/
Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) toll-free anywhere in BC to access emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health and substance use issues. Available 24 hours a day.
KUUS-US: The KUU-US Crisis Line Society operates a 24-hour provincial Aboriginal Crisis line for: adults, elders and youth https://www.kuu-uscrisisline.ca/
Adult/Elder Crisis Line: 250-723-4050
Child/Youth Crisis Line: 250-723-2040
BC Wide Toll Free: 1800-KUU-US17 (1800-588-8717)
Métis Crisis Line BC Toll Free: 1833-MétisBC (1833-638-4722)
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and to those dealing with intergenerational trauma. Call toll free: 1-800-721-0066.
The First Nations Health Authority Mental Wellness & Counselling Support offers a list of providers registered with health benefits at www.fnha.ca/benefits/mental-health or call 1-855-550-5454
Indigenous students can access support via the Student Health and Wellbeing portal.
Student Counselling Services (24/7)
UBC Student Assistance Program (SAP) 1 833 590 1328 (In North America) 1 604 757 9734 (Outside North America) UBC student community counselling service – immediate and short term counselling
Here2Talk 1.877.857.3397 BC post-secondary student counselling service – single session
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