Since May 28, 2021, when news broke of the recovered remains of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada have been expressing widespread grief in person and across social media. The announcement of the 215 children was a starting point for many who were learning about this part of our history for the first time but based on the stories shared for years by Survivors of residential schools, we know this was only the beginning. The number “215” was and still remains a symbol of the start of these recoveries and this movement. In total, across Canada, 2,207 unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been discovered outside of residential schools since the 1970s. Since May 2021 alone, thousands of suspected and confirmed unmarked graves have been identified, with only one-quarter of Canada’s 139 residential schools actively searched or with confirmed plans to search for unmarked graves. Due to the lack of reporting on the deaths of Indigenous children, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) estimates that about 6,000 children died while attending residential schools. The following schools have completed searches and reported graves since 2021: Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia – 215 Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon, Manitoba – 104 Marieval Indian Residential School in Marieval, Saskatchewan – 751 Kootenay Island Residential School in Cranbrook/Ktunaxa First Nation, British Columbia – 182 Kuper Island Indian Residential School in Penelakut Island, British Columbia – 160 St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, British Columbia – 93 St. Philips Indian Residential School in Kamsack, Saskatchewan – 12 Fort Pelly Residential School in Fort Pelly, Saskatchewan – 42 Grouard/St. Bernard’s Residential School in Grouard, Alberta – 169 George Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan – 14 St. Mary’s Indian Residential School, Ontario – 170+ We will endeavour to keep this page updated to honour the spirits, families, and communities. With this outpouring of grief, many are asking what to do next. There is a path to build upon the stories of the lost children of Canada’s residential school system in the same way that remembering stories like Chanie Wenjack’s changed conversations about reconciliation across Canada. Together we can ensure that the lives of the children across Canada who died while attending residential school are honoured. Individuals, families, communities, and organizations can take the pledge and create their own ways to act. This is a call to action, not a prescribed path to achieve the change.
#215Pledge is a growing coalition to call for #reconciliACTION.The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) will be hosting a form for individuals and organizations to join the #215pledge movement. A growing coalition, supported by DWF will be a nexus for bringing us together. Join us in calling for these actions so no child who died while in the care of a residential school is lost and that the experiences of all those affected by residential schools are honoured.
Sign the pledge and join us in calling for leaders and decision-makers to take action.#reconciliACTION #DoSomething #SafeSpaces #215Pledge Take continued action by writing a letter to your local member of parliament. Continue your learning journey with these recommended resources. If you or anyone you know is Indigenous and needs support, the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 1-866-925-4419. Please find additional mental health resources below.