CUPE Local 416 releases statement on the discovery of burial sites at former residential schools; honors residential school victims with “Every Child Matters” flag raising

Note: The following content may be triggering.

Toronto, ON—We are heartbroken and horrified to learn of the discovery of burial sites of children at former residential school locations across Canada. CUPE Local 416 extends heartfelt sympathy to the families and communities who’ve been impacted by the horrific legacy of residential schools and the recent discoveries of burial sites at former Kamloops and Marieval Indian Residential Schools. These discoveries are a stark reminder of the harsh realities faced by Indigenous communities across Canada and how much more needs to be done to combat and dismantle the colonial structures and systems that still negatively impact Indigenous communities today. CUPE Local 416 is committed to honoring the children who died at residential schools and will be raising an “Every Child Matters” flag at half-mast to mourn residential school victims whose lives were taken far too soon.

The recent findings are part of a larger tragedy—we know that there are still more discoveries to be unearthed on the grounds of former schools. It is estimated that more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families, communities, and culture with the expressed goal of assimilating indigenous youth. An estimated 6,000 children died while in attendance, due to the poor health conditions and abuse inside the schools.

CUPE Local 416 echoes national calls to action for continued and enhanced funding from federal and provincial governments to assist communities in identifying other unmarked burial sites, tell the truths of these harsh injustices, and to honor the memory of those lost.

The executive team of CUPE Local 416 encourages members to begin and continue their journey of education about truth and reconciliation. Below is a list of helpful resources to support this learning:

A Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419 to support residential school survivors and those impacted.