Statement of condolence and support for the victims and survivors of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School
At this time of particular grief for the families, extended families, caregivers, and friends of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains have been discovered on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) extends its deepest condolences. The Indian Residential Schools system marks the darkest period among several in the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, resulting in a legacy of systemic racism that endures in our society today. CPHA joins with and fully supports the calls from Indigenous communities to accelerate the process of identifying and protecting other burial sites to ensure that the victims of Canada’s genocidal policies and actions against Indigenous Peoples will be returned the dignity they were denied in life.
CPHA will continue to advocate for and support deliberate, coherent and intentional action to change the laws, policies and practices that resulted in blatant anti-Indigenous systemic racism and the violation of Indigenous Peoples human rights.
The need to take action on issues of stigma, racism and white supremacy has never been greater. As public health professionals committed to social justice, we each have a responsibility to examine our own beliefs and actions, and actively counter racism at the personal, organizational and community levels.
CPHA recommits to advancing Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) Peoples. CPHA recognizes that this is an ongoing and evolving process, and that every interaction between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people is an opportunity to advance truth and to forge a path towards reconciliation. CPHA commits to being an organization that meaningfully embeds Truth and Reconciliation in its work and strives to have robust relations with Indigenous Peoples based on mutual respect and trust.
As noted in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples “have suffered from historic injustices as a result of … their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests.” As such, every possible support, financial or otherwise, should be made available in reparation for the harms caused by Canada.