Across PHSA, we collectively grieve the tragic loss of the 215 Indigenous children on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory whose lives were stolen. We share in the collective heartache that moves through our community, British Columbia and across the world.
“This is a time for all of us to reflect on the colonial state of this country called Canada, all the lives stolen through genocidal acts, this is what is felt at this time. The sorrow, grief, and loss, of the lives of children. I encourage settler society to identify the efforts they can take to create change. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report and Calls to Action, and numerous other reports which illuminate the colonial state we are still in, and look at what you can do to promote and lead in change. This is to ensure honouring the children's lives is meaningful and sincere." - Dr. Jenny Morgan, Director, Indigenous Health, C&W
Memorials to honour these 215 Indigenous children have been emerging across the province and the country, inspired by the memorial created on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
At BC Children's Hospital, in the main lobby of the Teck Acute Care Centre, the C&W community is creating a similar memorial. Staff and physicians are donating shoes and 215 pairs are thoughtfully placed, one pair for each child discovered on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory. Other contributions such as cards, flowers, battery operated tea lights, are also welcome to be placed at the memorial.
The Indigenous Health team at C&W visited the memorial this morning to honour the 215 Indigenous children.
Sites across BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) are gathering this week to honour these lives lost. Yesterday, on June 2nd at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, an Indigenous patient led a gathering of patients and staff in drumming and prayers followed by smudging. This patient is the daughter of an Indigenous residential school survivor, and she shared the impact that this system had on her mother. Flags at both the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction have been lowered to half-mast this week.
On behalf of the Osoyoos Indian Band, all 10 B.C. correctional centres were invited to attend a virtual ceremony this morning. The ceremony included a virtual healing circle with song and prayer in memory of the 215 Indigenous children.
Thirteen stations across BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) created memorials this week to honour the 215 Indigenous children on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory, including: Station 151 Cumberland, Station 136 Tofino, Station 404 Creston, Station 254 Surrey, White Rock, Station 303 Ashcroft, Station 205 Abbotsford, Station 771 Vanderhoof, Station 339 West Kelowna, Station 427 Winlaw, Station 124 Port Alberni, and Station 503 Bear Lake.
All PHSA staff are encouraged to wear orange throughout this week to demonstrate support and raise awareness of Indigenous residential schools and the impact on Indigenous communities in B.C.