We at YPT are filled with grief by the news of 215 children’s remains being found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. We stand with all those who mourn this loss of precious life and those who continue to be harmed by the legacy of Canada’s residential school system. Sadly, shamefully, there are likely more children’s bodies to be found at other sites and we call upon all governments and agencies to work collaboratively to find them without delay and to support communities in their healing.
A message from incoming YPT Artistic Director, Herbie Barnes:
“I’ve been trying to think of ways to honour the young souls who have been taken and now found. This weekend I have been asked by many what to do with this information. The truth is, it’s not new information to me. My mother went to one of those schools. I have worked in the building in Kamloops where this discovery was made. I have heard my mother’s story and the stories of Kamloops. The numbers are staggering. One of the facts I learned was that 1 in 25 WW1 soldiers died in action, while 1 in 24 Indigenous children died while attending residential school. I say this not to trigger or upset, but to keep information moving.
As a theatre company whose focus is young people, it is hard to overlook that the victims of residential schools were young people the same age as the children who pass through our doors every day. Young People’s Theatre strives to help young people shine and be the best they can be. The Kamloops Residential School and over 139 other such schools were not designed to do that. The discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children might now allow their souls to be freed and their families to mourn. But this needs to be a call to action. YPT will find a way to reach out to schools and communities to support efforts to educate children on the impact of Canada’s residential school system.”
To honour the spirit of these young children, and to support Survivors and their families, YPT has made a contribution to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society fund. We encourage everyone who is looking for a way to support and to raise awareness to do the same. Donations can be made at irsss.ca.
People from across the country are placing children’s shoes and moccasins on doorsteps in commemoration. YPT staff has developed an installation in the front windows of our theatre as a reminder of this legacy and the children who did not make it home.
There are many resources available to families and schools to help children – and all of us – better understand the history and legacy of the residential school system.
Here are a few:
A guide to children’s books.
And a podcast from Historica Canada, available for free on Spotify.
For anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools, and those who are triggered by these reports, resources are available. Contact the Indian Residential School Survivors Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. KidsHelpPhone also offers support by connecting Indigenous children and youth with an Indigenous volunteer crisis responder. Message FIRST NATIONS, INUIT or METIS to 686868.