The recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School is a devastating reminder of what we each must undertake to know the truth of Indigenous peoples in Canada and work towards reconciliation. The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch mourns the lives of these children, and honours each child, their families, their communities, and all who are affected by the trauma inflicted by the residential schools in Canada.
CBABC acknowledges with sorrow and regret the significant harm done to Indigenous peoples, families, and communities as a result of the role the legal profession played in the implementation and enforcement of assimilationist government laws and policies.
CBABC is committed to responding meaningfully to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls for Justice of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. The over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system and Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system is ongoing and must be addressed. We offer educational programs, advocate for policy and law reform to implement DRIPA and the First Nations Justice Strategy, and have made recommendations for changes to the Child, Family & Community Service Act and the Police Act.
We recognize this is only the start of working to regain the trust of Indigenous peoples. We share space with Indigenous leaders and listen to their recommendations for moving forward with meaningful reconciliation. As we all engage in conversations about this recent discovery and the actions that are required to support Indigenous peoples in speaking their truths, we are mindful that dialogue about Indian Residential Schools can be re-traumatizing.
For those seeking a way to assist survivors and to support education about the residential schools, please consider a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).
CBABC President, 2020-21