Honoring the 215 Children
We remember all the children stolen from their families and sent to residential schools, and mourn the ones who never made it home, including the 215 children discovered in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. As Canada begins National Indigenous History Month, we cannot mark this occasion without naming the colonial settlement of these lands and the ongoing impacts of colonization. And that the residential school system was an instrument of colonial genocide.
Residential schools were designed to strip culture and identity from young children taken from their homes and communities. It denied them their language. It denied them love and affection. It denied them food. It denied them safety. It denied their humanity and their rights even in death. It even denied their families the rites and ceremonies of mourning their loss. Many deaths at the schools went undocumented and unacknowledged. Their bodies were often not returned home. Children were taken away and simply never came back.

So many survivors testified about deaths and disappearances that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) created a registry of deaths and produced a 270-page report called “Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.” TRC commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild recalls they always reserved an empty chair at TRC hearings in recognition of the children who went missing. Six of the 94 TRC Calls to Action relate to better documenting and commemorating the thousands of children who died at residential schools.  

The discovery of these graves attests to the ongoing legacy of loss and dehumanization inflicted by the residential school system. Robert Greene, Elder-in-residence at the Museum, says that in the face of this evidence of atrocity and injustice, “We all have a choice: to ignore this and do nothing. Or take action.”

Sharing the number for the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line:

We are sharing some resources and things you can do below.
You can find other recommendations on our website, with thanks to Circles for Reconciliation for sharing.
Explore stories from Indigenous filmmakers
Available to watch now
Throughout June, we are offering a selection of films by Indigenous artists available for on-demand streaming on humanrights.ca. Drawn from the National Film Board collection, these films bring together diverse perspectives and put the spotlight on themes and topics that matter today.

Gain a new understanding of Indigenous identities and spirituality. Reflect on how you can take part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. Use the guiding questions at the end of the film list to start a conversation with your friends and family.
Human rights resources for teachers
Our education team puts together thoughtful online resource guides to help young people learn about human rights. Explore videos, stories, discussion guides and interactive activities on topics like Indian residential schools, Indigenous rights and human rights in times of conflict. With resources from the Museum and other trusted sources, there’s something for every age!
Explore teacher resources: humanrights.ca/education-resources/