The discovery of the remains of 215 residential school children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is deeply troubling and an unearthing of the pain that so many Indigenous people faced through the residential school system. Theirs is an immeasurable suffering that has left a legacy for subsequent generations.
On behalf of the MSVU community, we grieve with the families and communities of these children and stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities across Nova Scotia and Canada.
Though decades too late, the bodies of these 215 children must be returned to their families in the most expedient way possible – that’s the only way that this fresh wound can begin to heal.
The flags on the MSVU campus have been lowered to half-mast to honour the 215 Indigenous children found buried in Kamloops and all others who lost their lives in the residential school system.
A 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to former residential school students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling 1-866-925-4419.
As well, please remember that we are here to support those in the MSVU community affected by this news.
- For students: Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator at MSVU, Alyssa McIntyre, Alyssa.McIntyre@MSVU.CA; Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs at MSVU, Patrick Small Legs-Nagge, Patrick.SmallLegs-Nagge@msvu.ca; and MSVU Counselling Services: firstname.lastname@example.org; Good2Talk NS Helpline for Postsecondary Students: 1-833-292-3698
- For faculty and staff: Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs at MSVU, Patrick Small Legs-Nagge, Patrick.SmallLegs-Nagge@msvu.ca; Employee & Family Assistance Program (or EFAP)—Shepell (free, confidential counselling services) – visit the website or call 1-844-880-9142
National Indigenous History Month
I’d intended to be in touch this week to remind that June is National Indigenous History Month. June 21st marks National Indigenous Peoples Day. It remains critical that we all actively engage in learning about the culture and history of the Indigenous People of Canada. That is an essential part of Truth and Reconciliation. I encourage you to stay tuned for details of events taking place across Halifax, our province and our country. You can learn more here and watch the Aboriginal Student Centre Facebook page for updates.
In our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, it’s important that we acknowledge that MSVU’s founders – the Sisters of Charity Halifax – worked at two residential schools: Shubenacadie and Cranbrook. The Sisters of Charity Halifax unveiled a Truth and Reconciliation panel on the grounds of Caritas Residence in Halifax in 2018 that acknowledges the deep suffering caused to the Indigenous children who were placed in the schools. They noted that “We can’t change the past, but we can listen deeply, with our hearts, to those who feel they can speak … we can work toward a future of hope, healing and right relationships.
To the Indigenous Peoples at MSVU and across Canada, we stand with you in grief and with an ongoing commitment to meaningful Truth and Reconciliation.
Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, CM
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University
Mount Saint Vincent University is built on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. We pay respect to the knowledge embedded in the Indigenous custodians of this land and to the Elders, past, present and future.