On May 27th, 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of an unmarked burial site of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) wishes to express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the survivors, and all Indigenous peoples impacted by the discovery. We recognize that the findings serve as yet another example of the atrocities committed and enabled by white settlers, their churches and religious institutions, and the Government of Canada. We acknowledge the intergenerational trauma carried by Indigenous peoples as a result of systemic racism and the residential school system.
As archival workers, we understand the power held by records, information, and knowledge. We also understand the role that archives and archival collections play in revealing truths, highlighting oppression, and documenting injustice. We call on archival workers and information specialists in Ontario to endeavour to make archival material holdings related to the residential school system available to Indigenous communities and to those who require access to assist in locating and naming the victims of residential schools. In doing so, we ask that care is shown for those who may be re-traumatized by these records.
The AAO also calls on its members to remember the importance of understanding our institutional histories, and reflect on the quality of our current relationships with Indigenous communities. We ask our membership to fully commit to building relationships with Indigenous communities bearing in mind principles of respect and reciprocity in an effort to build reconciliation frameworks into our archival practices.
To our membership directly impacted by the discovery in Kamloops, we offer our support and we encourage you to engage with the resources made available by the Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS), which we hope can support you through your grieving. Those experiencing trauma or distress can also call the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
To our non-Indigenous membership, we ask that you familiarize yourselves with the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and heed the Commissions’ Calls to Action. These reports and further resources are available on the AAO’s ‘Towards Truth and Reconciliation’ page. We ask you to use these resources to respond with your own acts of solidarity and support for Truth and Reconciliation efforts.
To learn more about the Indian Residential School System in Canada and Ontario, as well as calls and responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings, you can begin by consulting the following resources.