This message contains sensitive content and could be triggering. For crisis supports here in BC please contact the KUU-US Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717 or visit the First Nations Mental Health and Wellness Support page for additional support services. A complete listing of support services is included at the end of this statement.
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) stands with the Stó:lō Nation as they shared preliminary findings of potential unmarked graves of children at three former Residential School sites and an Indian Hospital in S'ólh Temexw (Stó:lō Nation's traditional territory).
In 2021, the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs' Council, under the leadership of Chief David Jimmie, launched Xyólhmet ye Syéwiqwélh (Taking Care of Our Children) project to uncover the truth regarding unmarked burials and missing children at former Residential School sites within S'ólh Téméxw, St. Mary's, Coqualeetza and All Hallows institutions, in addition to the Coqualeetza Indian Hospital.
The findings announced during yesterday's qwōlqwel swáyel (a day of sharing knowledge), once again, brought to light the trauma, pain, and suffering inflicted on children by the Residential School system. The FNHA supports the Stó:lō Nation statement that “the true meaning of this work cannot be expressed in terms of numbers. The nature of this work is personal and sacred."
While this announcement is shocking for Canadians across the country, many First Nations people in BC and Canada stand as witnesses to the truths of the abuse that took place at Residential Schools. We lift our hands to the communities who continue to do the hard work to bring their children home.
Stó:lō Commemoration Ceremonies will be held at Fraser River Heritage Park in Mission, BC next weekend at the former St. Mary's Residential School site on Sept. 29th, Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st. For more information regarding this, including cultural protocols, please visit the 2023 Stó:lō Commemoration webpage.
The FNHA continues to work with our First Nation partners to provide the people of Stó:lō Nation and the Residential school survivors from the three sites within S'ólh Téméxw, St. Mary's, Coqualeetza and All Hallows institutions as well as the Coqualeetza Indian Hospital, to get the wholistic health care supports they need as they grieve and continue their search for their lost children.
In closing, as we approach National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, we need to honor our community's resilience, survivors, and the children who did not make it home from Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals.
Wellness and Cultural Supports:
FNHA Mental Health and Wellness Supports page: Mental Health and Wellness Supports
Tsow Tun Le Lum: Call toll-free 1-888-403-3123 or visit www.tsowtunlelum.org
KUU-US Crisis Line Society: a 24-hour provincial Indigenous crisis line. Adults and Elders call 250-723-4050; Children and Youth call 250-723-2040. Toll-free 1-800-588-8717. Learn more at www.kuu-uscrisisline.com
Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS): Call toll-free 1-800-721-0066 or visit www.irsss.ca
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: Phone toll-free 1-855-242-3310 or chat online at www.hopeforw ellness.ca
The Métis Crisis Line: available 24 hours a day at 1-833-MétisBC, 1-833-638-4722