September 30 marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to remember the missing Indigenous children and survivors across Canada who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
These missing children are Le Estcwicwéy, which translates to “the missing” in the language of the Tk‘emlúpsemc people in British Columbia. It’s important to call Le Estcwicwéy̓ by their appropriate name, as Indigenous communities continue to grapple with the grim reality of searching for unmarked graves at former residential school sites. These areas are crime scenes and are treated as such by the communities affected until investigations are complete.
A total of 144 residential schools are currently recognized by the Federal Government. They were attended by over 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children between the ages of four and 16. At least 4,100 children are recorded as having died while at residential schools, but that’s not counting the deaths that continue to be uncovered.
An estimated 1,967 gravesites have been found using radar technology, but only 11 residential school sites have been searched to date. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society estimates there are more than 10,000 children in unmarked burial sites at residential schools and Indian hospitals across the country, which means we still have a long way to go to uncover all the lost lives of Le Estcwicwéy̓.
Join us in calling for the federal government to step up their efforts and search all former residential school sites and surrounding areas using ground penetrating radar to find all remaining unmarked graves. There’s no other way to properly uncover the truth of the genocide, and to honour those lost.
We all have a role to play in supporting Indigenous communities in their search for truth and justice. Together, we must uncover the truth of Le Estcwicwéy̓, honour their memory, and take concrete steps towards reconciliation.