Last week’s discovery of the remains of 215 children, at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, British Columbia, is deeply distressing. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Indigenous families and all those impacted across the country and within our community of colleagues, clients and peers.
This discovery is a devastating reminder of the legacy of residential schools in Canada. It is also a reminder of the overt anti-Indigenous racism throughout Canadian history and the ongoing systematic discrimination faced by Indigenous communities today.
This year, as we mark National Indigenous Heritage Month, we acknowledge the lasting legacy of the residential school system in Canada and the importance of implementing the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”).
At WeirFoulds, we recognize that we need to advance and to demonstrate equality, diversity and inclusion in everything we do, internally and externally. In keeping with this mission and the recommendations from the TRC report, we also join calls from the Indigenous community and others for the government of Canada to identify the children found at the Kamloops site, as well as the cause of death, and have that information provided to families and to fund full investigations of all former residential school sites. These are crucial steps in Canada’s reconciliation process.
As a law firm, we are particularly conscious of call to action 27, which urges the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, including about the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This education, in our view, must also be pursued on a firm and individual level. In the coming months, we will provide our lawyers and staff with opportunities to deepen their knowledge about the history and legacy of residential schools, and we will provide further resources to continue this learning going forward.
A National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access to emotional and crisis referral services is available by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866 925-4419.
To read our official statement on our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, click here.