Canada supports Esk'etemc First Nation on its spiritual walk

·6 min read

Taking care: We recognize this news release may contain information that is difficult for many and that our efforts to honour Survivors and families may act as an unwelcome reminder for those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous Peoples.

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous Peoples can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat through the website at www.hopeforwellness.ca.

ESK'ETEMC FIRST NATION, BC, Jan. 28, 2022 /CNW/ - The locating of unmarked burials at former residential school sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The Government of Canada is working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders, and affected families and communities to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, as well as responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 72 to 76.

Esk'etemc First Nation is undertaking healing and support work associated with the traumas caused by the former St. Joseph's Mission Residential School adjacent to Williams Lake First Nation. Through the guidance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers, the community will explore ways to support Survivors and their families on their healing journey by hosting 'Path to Healing' gatherings. Plans are also in the works to host a future Spirit Walk or run to commemorate Survivors and those children who did not return home. Among those who did not return home was 8-year-old Duncan Sticks, who was found frozen to death in his attempt to return home to Esk'etemc to escape the horrors of sexual and physical abuse he endured at the school.

Today, Kukpi7 Fred Robbins of Esk'etemc First Nation and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced funding of $387,801 to assist the community with this important work. A portion of the funding will go toward creating a monument in memory of Duncan and the many others who were subjected to abuse at the St. Joseph's Mission Residential School.

Additionally, Esk'etemc is working and will continue to work with the Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers Association to explore opportunities for Survivors to share their culture, traditions and residential school experiences with students and staff. This community-led process will ensure Esk'etemc First Nation can undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace without systemic barriers and further discrimination that unfortunately still resides within Canadian society.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all Canadians.

Quotes
"Over the history of Canada, as First Nation people, we have survived Treason and Genocide of the 'Doctrine of Discovery'. Over the 90 years the St Joseph's Industrial/Residential school was in operation, the Truth was told in 2008. Finally, what our elders and Survivors have been saying from the start is recognized and validated after finding 93 potential graves of children at the former St. Joseph's Mission site. Esk'etemc will use the funding in this announcement today to help in the healing of the Survivors and their families. In addition, remembering those who never had an opportunity to live a life, to be an Aunt, Uncle, Father, Mother and Grandparent. We will erect monuments to remember them and their families and help heal the next generation. The Sept. 30th, Orange Shirt Day will forever be remembered as the month of tears, as children grieved in these schools, parents grieved at home. These impacts are intergenerational and transgenerational. This funding will help in creating space to heal."

Fred Robbins,
Kukpi7 of Esk'etemc First Nation

"The Esk'etemc in the past 150 years have had to endure the many policies and legislation of institutions and agencies that were there to supposedly help, but in doing so, caused so much pain and hurt throughout time. Today we have the chance to fix the wrongs together and relearn what was taken from us, the culture, the language, and the land. With the help of this funding, we can start to heal and rebuild what was lost."

Fred Johnson,
Residential school Survivor, Esk'etemc First Nation

"This announcement today is a first step in a path to healing for Survivors and their families of Esk'etemc. It will allow opportunity for them to share their lived experiences with unknowing educators, students, and neighboring communities abroad while being grounded in the culture and traditions that were stripped from them as children. This will be the authentic path to Truth and Reconciliation; through education and understanding."

Calvin Dubray
Esk'etemc Community Education Director

"Our thoughts are with Esk'etemc First Nation, the Survivors, and their families as they begin to heal from horrors experienced by many children – who were taken away from their communities and cultures - to attend the former site of the St. Joseph's Mission Residential School. We remain committed to supporting Esk'etemc First Nation on your spiritual walk to finding the truth, to bringing the spirits of your children home, and to your healing."

The Honourable Marc Miller,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • Esk'etemc First Nation is located 330 kilometres northwest of Kamloops, British Columbia, and 58 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake First Nation. Children from the community attended either Kamloops Residential School or Williams Lake First Nation Cariboo Residential School which is also known as St. Joseph's Mission Residential School.

  • On August 10, 2021, the Government of Canada announced approximately $320 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools.

  • To date, $116.8 million has been committed to support First Nation, Inuit and Métis Survivors, their families and communities toward locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 72 to 76.

  • A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available for Indigenous Peoples at 1-855-242-3310 or via the online chat function through their website.

Associated links

Esk'etemc First Nation
Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding
Government of Canada enhances support to Indigenous communities to respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools - Canada.ca

Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program
Missing Children and Burial Information – Calls to Action 72-76

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SOURCE Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2022/28/c1199.html

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