I would like to acknowledge the sorrowful circumstances related to the finding of 215 unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the Kamloops Residential School property, and Thursday’s announcement of 751 unmarked graves discovered on Cowessess First Nation.
Parkland College and Cumberland College rise and stand together in sorrow with our Indigenous communities. Bobbi Gray, our Coalition Chief Foundational Skills and Learner Services, which includes the responsibility for Indigenous Engagement, has crafted a message that I would like to share with you.
Today, the world came to a halt and wrapped themselves around the community of Cowessess First Nation as Chief Cadmus Delorme released the findings of the Marieval Indian Residential School scope. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the community of Cowessess and all who are impacted by the shocking and horrific findings of 751 unmarked graves.
As similar discoveries are uncovered at residential school sites, it is with a heavy heart as the Coalition Chief Officer responsible for Indigenous Engagement and Inclusion that I send out messages of support to those who are affected by the impacts of this dark time in our history. On behalf of our President, Executives, Managers and Indigenous Engagement committees, we encourage staff to reach out for support via our EFAP program, as needed. Additional resources can be found on our websites and are included below for quick reference.
– Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.
– A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
In the spirit of truth and reconciliation,
Bobbi Gray, B.Ed., M.Ed.
Thank you, Bobbi, for sharing this message us.
I would also like to share a sober and gracious quote from the Cowessess First Nation’s Chief Cadmus Delorme:
“We all inherited this. Nobody today created Residential Schools. Nobody today created the Indian Act. Nobody today created the ’60s Scoop. We all inherited it and we have to acknowledge that people are healing and people are hurting. Let’s do something about it.”
Today we stand with our Indigenous partners and re-commit ourselves to working together for the betterment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and communities.
With sorrow and hope,
J. Mark A. Hoddenbagh, Ph.D., PSGov
President & CEO
Cumberland College & Parkland College